Shifting the Dial is a new paper that reveals the far-reaching benefits of improved learning and training pathways for Māori and Pasifika. Billions of dollars in earning increases are available if changes are made. And that could transform our communities.

Simply put, the needs of our people must lead innovation in the education sector.

The paper showed compelling economic modelling by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research. Lifting the educational outcomes of underserved learners to the national average would lead to $10.9 billion in extra wages over a thirty-year period, adjusting for labour force participation.

The paper was led by UP Education, which offers a whole range of training, including through MPTT training provider, NZMA. NZMA trades is already doing great things to lead with tikanga and to support women into the trades.

Craig Rushworth, CE of UP Education, says it’s about putting learners first.

“While underserved learners come from a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds, Māori, Pacific peoples and people with disabilities are over-represented in the underserved learners’ group. So, it’s clear that we can improve our education system because currently, it’s not delivering for too many learners of Aotearoa.”

The paper gave 13 recommendations for government, policymakers and education providers to shift the Dial.

  1. Adopt and invest in tried and tested learning programmes that have been co-designed with Māori, Pacific and disabled communities to create system-wide change.
  2. Implement tailored learning plans that focus on each individual learner, identify their barriers to education and develop a strategy to address these.
  3. Introduce improved wraparound services – social workers, counsellors, support workers and careers advisors – dedicated to working with hard-to-reach students.
  4. Introduce accessibility legislation with clear standards for post-secondary education providers with a focus on mainstreaming accessibility.
  5. Implement national best practices for support services that work regularly with students at risk of being underserved.
  6. Encourage innovation and flexibility in the post-secondary education sector with the implementation of incentives to improve educational outcomes for hard-to-reach ākonga.
  7. Increase the visibility of Māori, Pacific and people with disabilities in the education sector through a focused recruitment strategy and workforce development strategy.
  8. Facilitate education providers to partner with iwi to deliver education programmes through marae, with a tikanga learning approach.
  9. Provide improved mechanisms for Māori, Pacific and disabled students to have a stronger voice on decisions and strategies that impact them.
  10. Ensure the teaching of soft and life skills is built into all courses so that all learners leave a course not only academically qualified but also work-ready.
  11. Expand vocational trades training into more secondary schools through partnership with tertiary providers, with the aim of keeping more young people engaged with education.
  12. Undertake a review of curricula so that they are immersive and culturally inclusive to ensure course materials reflect a modern New Zealand and that all students can see themselves in the material they are learning from.
  13. Create a sense of belonging and a positive learning environment through cultural motifs, artworks, posters and wayfinding that make all students feel welcome.

“Ultimately, it’s about breaking the mould of the existing education system and meeting students’ needs on their own learning terms. From students, through to teachers at the front line, as well as policy and cultural experts, they are all saying the same thing,” says Rushworth.

“Investing in underserved learning is a social investment in New Zealand’s future and is one of the most influential levers we have to improve the lives of thousands of New Zealanders.”

At MPTT, we’re proud to be part of this solution and to be bringing together others who share our vision and commitment.

You can access the report at UP Education’s website here.