Time to rewire vocational education in Aotearoa

The current vocational education review is an opportunity to address the long-standing inequities in our education system for Māori, says Executive Director of Tokona Te Raki Māori Futures Collective, Dr Eruera Prendergast-Tarena.

“One-third of all working age Māori leave school with no qualifications, disillusioned by an education system that leaves them feeling isolated and unable to be who they are as Māori.

“The current model has not delivered equitable outcomes for Māori, so it is crucial that we address this as the Māori population continues to grow. Structural reforms will save money but designing a system that works better for Māori will change lives.

“Iwi are uniquely positioned to contribute to this review and reform and must be considered equal Treaty partners. Meaningful change can only come from working with government and all other interested parties to create an integrated, innovative and student-centered vocational training system to inspire, grow and prepare Māori for the opportunities of the future. A new approach will only work if done in collaboration with iwi,” says Dr Prendergast-Tarena.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has held hui throughout its takiwā to get feedback from whānau on the Strategic Plan for Early Learning 2019-29, the Tomorrow’s Schools Review and the Review of Vocational Education.

From this consultation, three key themes have emerged and have formed the basis of Ngāi Tahu submissions to government on proposed reforms:

  • The need to embed an authentic Treaty partnership
  • The need for co-designed, whānau-centered innovation
  • The need for regional iwi skills strategies that focus on the jobs of the future

“We aspire to a world where all rangatahi are inspired by their future, confident in their culture, prosperous in their careers and succeeding as Māori. We look forward to working alongside the government as Treaty partners to rewire the vocational education system and ensure our shared aspirations become a reality.”

Ngāi Tahu has recently established social innovation lab Tokona te Raki: Māori Futures Collective dedicated to growing Māori incomes and wellbeing.

Quick facts:

  • Māori population are young, the average age for Māori in Aotearoa is 28 years old, ten years younger than the average for Aotearoa
  • Over half of the working Māori population have lower skilled jobs
  • Almost half of the current Māori labour force are at a high risk of being replaced by automation

If we achieve equity for Māori, it will mean:

  • An additional $2.6 billion per year into Māori households
  • 55,000 Māori will move from no qualification to having a qualification
  • 22,500 currently in low skilled jobs will move to high skilled jobs
  • Increase the New Zealand tax revenue, by around $700 million per year