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Working Smarter: Driving Productivity Growth Through Skills - TPRP 08/06

School leavers’ qualifications are improving

More students are gaining school qualifications

Recent year-on-year increases in school leaver qualifications after many years without improvement reflect the more flexible, standards-based design of the New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Achievement, as measured by qualifications of all levels, has increased across all school deciles and for all ethnic groups.

but disparities persist and too many still leave without qualifications

But again, disparities in qualifications rates are of concern: by gender (favouring girls), by ethnicity and by socio-economic status. To the extent that comparisons between different qualifications systems and societies are possible, these gaps appear wider in New Zealand.

Figures 3, 4 and 5 illustrate the overall trend in qualifications and the disparities between ethnic groups.

Figure 3: Percentage of school leavers gaining qualifications
Figure 3: Percentage of school leavers gaining qualifications.

Figure 4: School leavers with at least NCEA Level 2, by ethnicity
Figure 4: School leavers with at least NCEA Level 2, by ethnicity.

Figure 5: School leavers qualifying to attend university, by ethnicity

 

Figure 5: School leavers qualifying to attend university, by ethnicity.

Future workforce growth will be in those ethnic groups with highest and lowest qualifications rates

Considering these patterns of achievement alongside the projections for New Zealand’s working-age population highlights the importance of addressing disparities in the educational achievement of young New Zealanders, and the extent to which the cultures of many firms will need to adjust in the next two decades.Statistics New Zealand’s recently updated population projections show that over the next 20 years, all the growth in our workforce will be through the growth of Maori, Asian and Pacific populations.

Figure 6: Workforce growth will be Maori, Pacific and Asian
Figure 6: Workforce growth will be Māori, Pacific and Asian.

Table 3: Projected change in working age population by ethnicity 2006-2026
  Working age population (thousands)
  European
and Other
Maori Asian Pacific Total
2006 Base 2,105 384 302 180 2,971
2026 Projection 2,068 486 532 285 3,371
Change -37 102 230 105 400
% change 2006-2026 -1.8% 26.6% 76.2% 58.3% 13.5%

Statistics New Zealand National Ethnic Population Projections, April 2008.
2006 base, medium fertility, mortality and migration assumptions (series 6)

Too many youth disengage from education

15-19 year-olds’ education enrolment rates are low

New Zealand’s youth (age 15-19) participation rate in education and training is well below the OECD average. This is surprising, given the strong positive correlation between the achievement of a country’s 15 year olds in PISA and subsequent youth education participation rates.

Given the strength of evidence about the value of completing school and continuing in education, having so many young people disengaging from education at this age will be detrimental to New Zealand’s long-term skills and productivity.

Figure 7: Achievement at age 15 and retention in education to age 17
Figure 7: Achievement at age 15 and retention in education to age 17.

Figure 8: Education enrolment rates of 15-19 year olds in the OECD
 
Figure 8: Education enrolment rates of 15-19 year olds in the OECD.

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