Incentive to leave school?

Written By: - Date published: 8:02 am, July 16th, 2009 - 17 comments
Categories: education, employment, Social issues - Tags:

I disagreed with Helen Clark in 2007 when she first suggested raising the school leaving age, as I don’t believe the mainstream school system is suitable for all young people. However I did largely support Labour’s 2008 policy to ensure all school leavers under the age of 18 are in some kind of education. If teenagers are allowed to drop out of school and do nothing, the risk is that they will adjust to the lifestyle and find it difficult to work or train later in life. But there are many reasons why individual teenagers are more suitable to alternative education, apprenticeships, or work, so any policy really needs to take that into account.

I support John Key’s initiative to refuse the benefit to those under 18 unless they are in some form of education or training. This leaves it open to teenagers to leave school at 16, but means they will need to either work to support themselves, or gain skills to enable them to do so in the future. I was impressed with the promise to offer early school leavers free education in polytechnics or trade academies, but with a couple of qualifications:

I think there is little argument that teenagers are better staying in school where possible, because it teaches a much broader range of skills than any career or industry focused course. I am concerned however, that this offer of free education could serve as an incentive to leave school early.

If I were 16, and knew that my chosen career would require training at a polytechnic or trade academy, I would seriously consider leaving school early to take advantage of the free training while it were on offer. It could save potentially over ten thousand dollars in fees over the two years of eligibility.

Perhaps a slightly modified version of this policy could work better. How about offering the same policy of two years free training to all school leavers, not just those who leave early? This would not only take away the monetary incentive to leave school early, it would also provide a positive incentive for all school leavers to further their education.

Finally, as in many areas with this National government, the inconsistencies in their policies are really confusing. This policy shows they have some sort of knowledge that training and upskilling our young people is good for society and the economy, yet their first budget scrapped the modern apprenticeships scheme. Go figure.

17 comments on “Incentive to leave school?”

  1. BLiP 1

    Yes, the John Key National Government Inc’s proposal to support Labour’s “keep youth in education” policy is, on the surface, a sound idea. However, the reality under National, it now turns out, is that these youngsters could easily end up flipping burgers at McDonalds at no cost to the company while they learn “customer service and money handling” skills.

    Thanks National. I’m lovin’ it.

    • Pat 1.1

      A fulltime job at McDonalds is far better than being on the dole, don’t you think?

      • BLiP 1.1.1

        Sure – but working at McDonalds for nothing while the company gets paid to provide “training”, which is what National is hinting at, is far worse than being on the dole

        • Daveski

          Strange, that’s the same model for teaching training and nursing training but no one’s ever raised the issue before.

          Big ups on the post to Rocky – it’s easy to defend the Nats when much of the comments can be reduced to four legs good two legs bad.

          Conversely I think your right that the Nats are talking the right things but not following through either through a lack of policy detail or indeed contradictory actions!

          On a related topic, it is also clear we need to be more aggressive in link education to our economic policies (not just our social ones :)). By that, I mean more emphasis/encouragement for science and engineering careers, not dance, law, or bean counting.

          • BLiP

            If you believe paying hospitals and schools to provide learning for teaching and nursing is the same as providing a subsidy to a foreign-owned business for letting Kiwis flip burgers, then, sure. You’re right again Dave.

            • Daveski

              There are two separate issues.

              1 Training for free. Why should teachers and nurses pay to train while others are paid eg police?

              2 Agreed re private v state (except most McD’s are owned by NZers)

              3 Of course I’m right; you’re left 🙂

          • craig

            Daveski Nursing Education and Teacher Education are nothing like the Mcdonalds on the job training what the hell are you on about.

      • lprent 1.1.2

        Not the question really. Would it provide better training than say doing outward bound. Or a course in car maintennance. I suspect that the government won’t want to spend money, do we will get burger flipping. I hardly think that will allow them to develop their capabilities. The dole would probably be more productive

      • Noko 1.1.3

        But then again, 16k is a lot more than the fees required for a lot of Polytech courses.

  2. lprent 2

    Seems to be characteristic in our family that we wang to bug out of school as feasible.

    My parents almost had to force me to stay at school. I got through with lousy attendances – by 7th form I was there an astounding 40% of the time. The night shift I was doing was far more interesting. I took a year off to work after that trauma. A year of mundane jobs and the army provided the fuel that got me through my first two degrees because I wasn’t and still are not a natural academic.

    As rocky says this policy is welcome, but doesn’t seem to be well thought through. I’d be interested to find out where it is in the budget?

  3. Byron 3

    I’ve always had mixed feelings about this policy, its obviously to meet the changing needs of employers, much of the “unskilled” work is disappearing (and was even before the recession) I worked with a number of 16 year olds when I was in manufacturing, the factory at that time (just 4 years ago) employed 200, now it employs 50. So the state is upskilling the workforce while they’re young to go into the higher skill jobs that can’t be replaced by machines or people in the third world.

    Maybe funding polytech courses with a tax on the industries they’re supplying workers for would be a good policy (not that it will happen) Its great people are learning new skills for socially useful work, but why should employers get a free ride?

  4. John 4

    I think its important that school leavers under the age of 18 still have access to some sort of safety net. Young people are going to leave school for a myriad of reasons – many will not have supportive families and I think its important that social welfare is available if they need it. Sure have a policy that 16 – 18 year olds should be at school/work/tertiary but make sure there is enough flexibility that young peopel dont end up falling between the cracks. If benefits are not available many young people will be forced to rely on crime for a living or will stay stuck in destructive environments simply because they do not have a choice.

    For the record I dropped out at 16 and went straight into full time study I loved it learnt a whole lot of new skills and would highly reccomend the option to other young people frustrated by the schooling system.

    • Noko 4.1

      I suggest you look up the Independent Child Benefit. Unless of course, in not letting anyone under 18 on the dole, they mean this too, then there is something very wrong.

      • Rocky 4.1.1

        Actually they do mean that (or whatever they happen to be calling it now – Independent Youth Benefit, Independent Circumstances Benefit…), because currently under 18’s can’t go on the unemployment benefit.

        I have no problem with forcing youth to train for their benefit money. Provided interim support is provided while they enrol, and the choices for training are diverse, fine by me.

  5. toad 5

    Pat said: A fulltime job at McDonalds is far better than being on the dole, don’t you think?

    Hmm, marginally I suppose, but it is sad if that is the Government’s ambition for our school leavers.

    And, Pat, hardly any jobs at McD’s are full-time. They have a deliberate policy of having a casualised workforce with ever changing rosters to make it more difficult for their workers to organise for better wages and conditions.

  6. blair 6

    I’m interested for the source of your claim that national cut the modern apprenticeship scheme? The TEC website doesn’t have any mention of this.

  7. Pat 7

    Rocky said “If I were 16, and knew that my chosen career would require training at a polytechnic or trade academy, I would seriously consider leaving school early to take advantage of the free training while it were on offer.”

    You raise an interesting point. There are several other factors at play:

    – it depends on the entry qualifications required for the particular polytech course.

    – obviously, the proposed system is designed to catch the early school leavers, who tend to be the ones struggling academically. The kids that stay on until Years 12 and 13 are the brighter kids that are more likely to push on to Uni or more advanced polytech training. It would be interesting to see what age/NCEA level of kids are taking the various polytech and trade academy courses now.

    I wonder if there might also be one other unintended consequence: Girls who want to leave school early and who are faced with no dole and more school (polytechs etc) might take the third option, and get pregnant.

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