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Push back toward on-job learning looks to be win-win

author:New Zealand Herald October 2017

Their stated aim was nothing less than to "change the conversation around education in New Zealand".

They want schools, teachers, parents and, most importantly, students to know employers are not necessarily looking for recruits with academic or technical qualifications for skilled roles in their companies. Instead, they are looking for evidence of the attitudes, motivation and adaptability required.

In a sense this is not new, employers have long been heard to say that technical skills can be learned on the job, and that they are more interested in applicants' attitude, willingness and ability to learn. A tertiary degree is often valued as evidence of application and motivation rather than for the acquisition of useful knowledge. Too often firms in field such as engineering are heard to complain that graduate recruits know next to nothing useful and have to be taught what to do.

But the companies that have now questioned the value of tertiary qualifications in many cases are responding to a shortage of skills in some sectors. They clearly believe the pool of able recruits can be enlarged if fewer school leavers were channelled into tertiary institutions. They do not say, though it can be inferred, they think many young people are put off by a three- or four-year course of further study before they can start earning some money.

Job search websites already find interest from both employers and job seekers in a "no qualifications" search filter.

There are said to be as many as 90,000 young New Zealanders who are not in employment education or training, which is remarkable considering the number of providers of tertiary education in towns and cities throughout the country. Polytechnics and private training enterprises have proliferated since the late 1980s with the provision of public and private funding through student loans and the formation of industry training organisations in place of apprenticeships.

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New Zealand Herald October 2017 2012