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September 30, 2016 at 09:15 am

Media Release: 

Vocational skills are valued and essential. 

The Industry Training Federation (ITF) congratulates the hundreds of New Zealand secondary schools that have broadened senior curriculum through offering vocational pathways to senior students.

ITF also congratulates thousands of young kiwis that have boosted their future options by gaining practical skills for life and work as part of their NCEA qualifications. 

"Industry values vocational skills." says ITF Chief Executive Josh Williams. "Vocational options provide students with purposeful and relevant learning, a taste of career possibilities, and core and technical skills that help make young people more employable."

Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) work with secondary schools across New Zealand to offer high quality vocational options, both in schools, and through partnerships between schools, tertiary providers, and workplaces. These credits count towards NCEA and simultaneously towards foundation level industry qualifications.

This week, the New Zealand Herald published an analysis showing correlations between young people achieving foundation level industry standards, school deciles, and ethnicity. The analysis raises important questions about the options available to young people, and highlights the importance of achieving coherent NCEA qualifications, but does not invalidate the value and importance of vocational education. 

The ITF welcomes the increase in numbers of students achieving vocational standards, especially while industry reports serious skills shortages across many industries, including the services industries, tourism, construction, agriculture, social services, and the care industries. 

However, the ITF does not support "credit farming", or the use of foundation level industry standards in haphazard ways to bolster NCEA pass rates. That's why the ITF worked with the government to develop Vocational Pathways, which package up both academic and skills-based learning to provide a strong foundation for jobs and further study options - including at university level. 

"The academic pathway remains prestigious, important, and widely available." Mr Williams says. "However, since only three out of ten school leavers go to university, the final three years of school needs to prepare all young people for their future working lives, not just practice for academia." Mr Williams says. 

"Learning about shift work, rental disputes, safe food handling, hazards and hygiene are real world realities and valuable skills that will serve young people well in their future lives." Mr Williams says. "Industry values these skills, and we applaud schools that are innovating to offer relevant pathways in the best interests of their students."

Contact: Josh Williams, Chief Executive, 021 618 467