Skill shortages and reaping what you sow

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, January 18th, 2016 - 113 comments
Categories: economy, education, employment, tertiary education - Tags: , , ,

Depressing reading on falling enrollments in tertiary education in this piece in the Dom Post yesterday:

Skill shortages tipped as student numbers plummet

Data released to the Sunday Star-Times shows the number of people studying at tertiary level students has fallen 20 per cent over the past 10 years. There were 453,000 students enrolled in tertiary institutes in 2005. By 2014, that had fallen to 363,000.

Certificate courses at polytech level were particularly hard hit, down 30 per cent since 2008, despite a Government push to get students into trades training with through its fees-free Youth Guarantee and Maori and Pasifika Trades Training schemes.

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins says students have been driven out by higher fees and tighter restrictions on student loans.

Later the article offers an alternative explanation for the fall:

Rick Ede, chief executive at Unitec, says the drop in student numbers is largely driven by an improving economy. Those who might have been choosing between studying and working are now finding it easier to get a job.

Ede is wrong. The economy has (almost) always grown – without gutting student numbers. Our current growth is slower than our 20 year average, and outside of the (non-productive) Auckland property bubble and the Christchurch rebuild (which employed many foreign workers) recent growth has been pretty anemic. Furthermore “the 146,000 unemployed now [2015] compares to 77,000 at the end of 2007 and 105,000 at the end of 2008, when John Key became Prime Minister”.

It seems much more likely that Hipkins is right – higher fees and tighter restrictions on student loans leading to falling student numbers looks like pretty simple cause and effect.

Steven Joyce also offers an opinion:

But Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says much of the decline is driven by a push to focus on higher-level qualifications. “We’ve deliberately encouraged a decline in low-value, low-return part-time courses at Levels 1-3 since they peaked under Labour in 2005,” he says. “If Labour wants to go back to the future and churn people repeatedly through low-level qualifications that are of no use to those enrolled then good luck to them.”

Joyce is wrong:

In the construction industry, the shortage of staff is not just among the most highly-skilled tradespeople but includes people driving trucks and in lower-skill roles. “There is an acute shortage of skills at all levels across many industries.”

IT, engineering, teacher education, agriculture and management qualifications recorded big drops. The number of students studying information technology dropped by more than 20 per cent overall while students studying information systems fell by 35 per cent between 2008 and 2014,from 20,580 to 13,200.

Civil engineering, which is on the New Zealand skill-shortage list, lost nearly a quarter of its students. The number studying automotive engineering dropped 40 per cent. Roger McRae, managing director of engineering firm McConnell Dowell, says the decline in numbers is a recognised problem.

Nine per cent more people are now doing bachelors degrees than in 2008, 13 per cent more are doing honours degrees, and 19 per cent more doing masters degrees. But compared to 2011, there has been a drop in bachelor, graduate diploma, and doctorate-level enrolments.

Those are not “low-level” qualifications in any sense at all – Joyce is not only wrong but can only be deliberately blowing smoke. Final word to Hipkins:

“A whole generation of New Zealanders received their tertiary education more or less free and now they are reaching retirement age and are reliant on the next generation to pay tax to support that retirement. Now is a good time to invest in the education of the next generation.”

113 comments on “Skill shortages and reaping what you sow”

  1. David H 1

    Just what the Nats want a country full of Uneducated, cheap workers.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    As it stands, people can’t afford to do higher learning any more as they simply don’t have the support that they need. We need to go back to a full free education right up to and including doctorate level. It’s the only way that we can ensure that we have the skills that we need. The only way to ensure that we keep them is to use them which means massive government investment in manufacturing, research and development.

    This private enterprise thing is destroying the once thriving community that we once were.

    • Kelly-Ned 2.1

      You are absolutely right Draco. As a 1970s model teen I find it abhorrent that my peers (Key’s lot) have dismantled our free education system – completely forgetting what we got for free.
      I had a young colleague a few years ago who assured me that the current student loan system was so costly to administer that it would be cheaper to just give the money to the students (as we did in the 60s/70s) rather than try to run the loans system.
      I have no way of checking his facts but I do know that the Student Loan system is huge and complex. Makes for interesting thinking.
      The loan system also seems to increase the gap between the haves and have nots as the ones most likely not to take on education debt are those of humble means, thereby leaving them further behind through lack of education/training.
      To consider the other end of the employment/training issue is there a place for reconsidering our open economy?
      Would we be better off to protect the employment opportunities of some key industries, especially ones that are somewhat ‘NZ’ oriented such as food production? It always seems madness to me that we import all manner of food into this country.
      The Nationa politicians are certainly frantically obfuscating these facts.
      Lets just hope that the truth of the situation can be seen by enough people who will rise up against them.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        To consider the other end of the employment/training issue is there a place for reconsidering our open economy?

        Not so much in if we have an open economy but in how we make it an open economy. I think we can drop both free-trade agreements and the World Trade Organisation. I think we would do better off setting some standards built upon principle. If another country meets those standards then we will allow trade with them, if they don’t then we won’t. This would prevent us from benefiting from the abuse of people in nations that use sweatshop labour as well as force those nations to then develop their economy and look after their own people first.

        This comes down to the most basic aspect of free trade: Willing buyer, willing seller.

        Would we be better off to protect the employment opportunities of some key industries, especially ones that are somewhat ‘NZ’ oriented such as food production?

        Is food production truly a key industry or is our over reliance upon it holding back the development of our nation? I hold that it’s the latter.

        Essentially, we should be able to produce everything that we need here in NZ. It’s the ‘nice to have’ that we can’t produce in NZ that would be traded and that pretty much comes down to food that won’t grow in our climate and a good greenhouse would probably even have us growing that as well.

        IMO, under free-trade there won’t actually be any trade between nations.

    • Chooky 2.2

      +100 DTB….my daughter an ‘A’ student was invited to do honours in two separate disciplines …one commercial, B.Com and and the other arts, BA in practical Film making( very competitive and hard to get into)..she has a double degree….she could afford neither ….and already had $40,000 loan…She went overseas. Her university places have no doubt been taken by overseas Asian paying students or those New Zealanders with wealthy parents.

      Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins is correct when he says New Zealand students have been driven out by higher fees and tighter restrictions on student loans.

      Young New Zealanders are being sold down the drain.

      This is an Election issue…and agree “We need to go back to a full free education right up to and including doctorate level.”…this will mean we have the best and brightest New Zealand students.

    • savenz 2.3

      +1 Draco T

      In addition if you do do higher learning their are fewer and fewer skilled jobs out there.

  3. RedLogix 3

    That last para from Hipkins is highly pertinent. I’ve been aware of this pending crisis for years. Looking about my own tech niche, industrial automation, it’s obvious that a large fraction of skilled technical people are over the age of 55.

    And that while there are some capable young people coming through, there really aren’t enough of them. And too many have a sadly narrow outlook on what they are doing. They simply are not getting the quality of education I was so incredibly fortunate to receive in the 60’s and 70’s. The fact that I’m over 60 and still working at the leading edge on substantial projects … is testament to some very sound foundations laid for me decades ago.

    It strikes me that we are seeing the gap between ordinary people and those who actually understand the technology on which our civilisation is built … is getting wider not less. Even in my current workplace, full of really smart heavy engineering and process design wizards, there isn’t much actual understanding of what I do.

    One of the big turning points that I witnessed was the introduction in the early 80’s of ‘continuous assessment’ in most University courses. Overnight it diminished much of the social life of the campus, and this combined with rising course fees, had a deleterious narrowing effect on how students approached their courses.

    Instead of a broad education being viewed as good in its own right … it all subtly changed to ‘getting a well-paid job’. And yes we are now reaping what we have sown alright.

    • shorts 3.1

      and more often than not that well paid job was seen to be in management/finance as that road was quicker than that of higher qualified sectors such as engineering

      that said we’re not alone in the shift from production of stuff to moving paper around as the basis for economic growth – it just bites harder here as we’ve a small population, doesn’t help that many of our best headed off to earn real money leaving the rest of us on rubbish pay and high costs of living

      as much as I’d love to lay the blame at Joyce and Keys feet, its been 30 years of the same (to varying degrees) from all parties in power

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Yep, too much focus on specialisation has left a large part of the population without the necessary cross knowledge needed to understand how a society works. It’s how the rich have managed to keep us as slaves rather than knowledge leading us to freedom.

    • Steve Withers 3.3

      The removal of tariffs killed off entire careers. NZ industry has effectively been lobotomised over the past 40 years….with only some increasingly elderly workers still possessing the knowledge that would allow any resumption in those areas.

    • savenz 3.4

      +1 ReLogix – hit it on the nail.

      Not content to wreck uni with ‘continuous assessment’ they now are going after secondary and even primary schools to create NZ as a nation full of zombie clones working slowly from one assessment to the next.

      In order to economic prosperity you need to have creativity, inventors and a wide discourse of ideas and ability to collaborate. Not dumb everyone down to the same narrow standard and fight it out (slowly) to get ahead.

  4. fisiani 4

    This is great news. There is no value in having someone start a course but not graduate. Far better that they get a job. Surely you would agree that we want the ratio of graduates to students to be as close to 100% as possible.The educational reforms are obviously working.

    • Paul 4.1

      Go to your happy place, fisi.

    • Another person in the wrong place. Spout your rhetoric spin somewhere more suited, like whaleoil, or are your just rollin and trollin sicko..

      When Bennet used said services to better herself whilst staring out her council flat looking at the brown skins and pining to Join Nationals front, then withdrew the ladder on it, you lost all your legs to stand on.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      There is no value in having someone start a course but not graduate.

      Yes there is. It helps those people understand and relate to others and society in general.

      Far better that they get a job.

      Either that or shift to another course. Either or.

      Surely you would agree that we want the ratio of graduates to students to be as close to 100% as possible.

      Not necessarily.

      The educational reforms are obviously working.

      To keep us as slaves to the rich.

      • fisiani 4.3.1

        Load yourself with student debt, fail to get a qualification but at least you understand and relate to others and society in general OR get a job understand and relate to others and society in general. Duh!!
        Surely you agree that the only people who should be in tertiary education are those who have the ability to qualify or are you that cruel?

        • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1.1

          Load yourself with student debt, fail to get a qualification but at least you understand and relate to others and society in general OR get a job understand and relate to others and society in general.

          Wrong as the person who just goes out and gets a job doesn’t get the education needed to understand how other jobs fit into the economy. This lack of education and understanding is why cleaners and aged care workers get paid so fucken little, a large part of why we have poverty in this country.

          Surely you agree that the only people who should be in tertiary education are those who have the ability to qualify or are you that cruel?

          Unlike you I don’t see people who don’t get qualifications as a failure. I recognise that they will have learned something even if it’s not enough to pass. They should be supported in trying again either through the same course or another.

          Never mind the simple fact that some people just don’t do well in our learning institutions. Not because they’re incapable but simply because the format doesn’t suit them.

          You, like all RWNJs, are just too impatient with people and thus look to throw them away because they don’t meet your preconceptions.

        • Pat 4.3.1.2

          so the goal is to run Tertiary Education to achieve a 100% graduation rate, I mean they are paying customers after so they deserve to receive what they have paid for right?……strangely enough i was always of the belief that you graduated if you demonstrated an acceptable level of understanding of the subject involved which inherently will produce some who fail to achieve that, maybe on the first attempt, maybe for always in that particular area.
          Failure to successfully complete a particular paper/course does not necessarily mean nothing of value has been learned, even if its only that their talents may lie elsewhere

    • Kelly-Ned 4.4

      Fisiani, your comment makes so many errors of assumption it is hard to know where to start!!
      You assume….
      • that education is only about employment.
      • that teens know with a certainty what they want as a career.
      • that young people grasp the full content and implication of their course right at the start.
      • that people don’t change as a result of the things they learn or discover.
      • that starting and not completing represents failure – it doesn’t – it represents learning and self discovery.
      • education that doesn’t lead to employment is a waste.

      Some wise person once said something to the effect….. “It is not what we learn, but who we become through what we learn that matters.”
      I never knew a person who wasn’t changed through learning.
      The worst thing we can do for the future of our society is devalue learning or correspondingly relegate learning to the status of ‘preparation for employment’. It is and must remain far, far more than that alone.

      • That’s because Fisianni is a troll, he’s not interested in debates he’s busy writing inflammatory troll like remarks to satisfy his immature need to piss people off.

        He hasn’t any argument
        He resorts to outrageous comments the more pathetic the better, to entice us into a slanging match with him.

        I wager, if you start ignoring his posts they will escalate to the point the mods will remove him. It will happen in frustration because he no longer has anyone to annoy.

        He’s a cock.

      • Stuart Munro 4.4.2

        Well said.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.4.3

        +1

        Well said.

      • Steve Withers 4.4.4

        +100

    • Stuart Munro 4.5

      There is no value in having someone start a course but not graduate.

      Tell that to Bill Gates. Or Robert Putnam.

  5. Sabine 5

    no worries we import the skills that we don’t have. The Kiwis can go starve on Winz rations. 🙂

    see there no problems. National, a government for the select few since ages ago.

    • fisiani 5.1

      And there you have it. This post is not about the relative merits of tertiary student numbers but simply just another attempt to smear the Government’s eductional reforms that are clearly working. Does Hipkins really want to lumber students with debt and no qualification? How cynical.

      • Kelly-Ned 5.1.1

        Are you reading the same article as the rest of us?

      • Stuart Munro 5.1.2

        This government’s education clusterfuck needs no smears – as with their economic policy they obviously don’t know wtf they are doing.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.1

          No, they know exactly what they’re doing. Poor, uneducated people are easier to turn into serfs for the rich.

  6. Tc 6

    Imagine if we had a forward thinking govt that encouraged higher and trade education when the GFC arrived rather than let school leavers chance their arm in the market.

    Natz slashed funding, numbers and dropped night classes to show they are not nation builders but dismantlers.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      +1

    • Gosman 6.2

      Night classes were apparently more popular amongst the older section of the population rather than the young with little or no tertiary qualifications.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1

        So, you think that older people shouldn’t have an education?

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.2.2

        I took computer programming and language classes at night at polytech in Christchurch while at high school – some of the knowledge I still use 25 years later. Also a great chance to mix with people from all walks of life. A great opportunity that is sadly no longer available today – John Key and his ilk have pulled up the rope ladder!

      • tc 6.2.3

        Thats because they fulfilled a need in teaching skills they either wanted or needed in later life like losing a partner and having to learn to do tasks they used do.

        Axeing of night classes was cruel and economically stupid, typical national.

      • Pat 6.2.4

        that older population that economists expect to be working in their retirement years due to inadequate super and to make up for the lack of skilled labour due to demographic bulge.?……brilliant

  7. Woodburner 7

    My own experience is that the ITO structure is not working very well, particularly in the pre-apprenticeship space. School leavers go to an ITO, often don’t learn a great deal (or anything at all), rack up some debt, and then are unable to get an apprenticeship in their field.

    I have heard many small-time employers, particularly plumbers, builders and mechanics saying they wont touch a kid with a pre-apprenticeship certificate or whatever they get, because they believe rightly or wrongly that the skills and training is not of value.

    So it seems to me that (parts of) the ITO system is a bit of a scheme to make the providers rich at the expense of the students and also the workforce. In my opinion that ITO funding may well be better spent by co-funding bonded apprenticeships rather than creating educational churn.

    • Tc 7.1

      Ahh yes, apprenticeships destroyed by natz in the 90’s.

      At least they are consistent as they were saying ‘the market’ will fix it back then, same BS they peddle today.

  8. Lanthanide 8

    “Ede is wrong. The economy has (almost) always grown – without gutting student numbers.”

    This is an insufficient analysis. Student numbers went up significantly during the GFC because people couldn’t find work. Now that the economy is improving, and the people who went into study during the GFC should be finishing their studies and moving into the workforce, it would be expected that the number of people in study is dropping. Which is what Ede says.

    Another potential booster of education is what you yourself even mention – that the Christchurch rebuild is now starting to wind down. Again, there was (probably) an uptick of people going into training to up-skill themselves to work as part of the rebuild, and those people have come out of training and into the workforce.

    To properly refute his statement you need to consider if we are coming off a very high level of students in education, in which case this is merely reversion to the mean and nothing to be alarmed about. Merely looking at whether the economy is growing or not doesn’t take the recent unusual circumstances into account.

    • r0b 8.1

      It’s true that I’m dismissing that explanation pretty much out of hand. It fails the sanity test – all of a sudden very average economic improvement leads to a massive drop in student numbers? No.

      However, to dig in to it further…

      Student numbers went up significantly during the GFC

      No they didn’t. They did increase slightly at degree and higher levels, but they fell elsewhere – See Figure 1.1
      https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/164364/Profile-and-Trends-2014-NZs-Annual-Tertiary-Education-Enrolments-Part-1.pdf

      There was a big drop starting in 2010 – while the economy was still in the doldrums, prior to the Chch rebuild. What did happen in 2010? This…

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10646447

      Budget 2010: Move to free up course-fee increases rattles student unions

      The Government has ditched the “fees maxima” policy which caps tertiary education fees at a set monetary level and will instead allow institutions to raise all course fees by up to 4 per cent from next year.

      The change, made in yesterday’s Budget, has prompted concern from student unions …

      He said overall the Budget was a double blow for students, who faced higher fees as well as stricter criteria for student loans and allowances.

      Cf Figure 1.1, looks like cause and effect to me.

      • Lanthanide 8.1.1

        “all of a sudden very average economic improvement leads to a massive drop in student numbers? No.”

        No, that’s not the argument. The argument is a big negative stimulus (the biggest since the depression) has worked its way through the system, and hence the upward trend in students during the initial phases of that one-off stimulus are now reverting back to the mean. Naturally this appears as a reduction in students in education, but that isn’t automatically a bad thing.

        “No they didn’t. They did increase slightly at degree and higher levels, but they fell elsewhere – See Figure 1.1”

        Both degree and industrial training numbers went up. It also looks like “non-degree study at providers” was in a downward slope, until the GFC (~2008) where it stabilised for 2 years before resuming its decline.

        So student numbers did go up during the GFC, although not nearly as much as I was expecting to see. There’s also no visible bump from the Christchurch rebuild.

        • r0b 8.1.1.1

          I still don’t buy it. It’s trying to build a narrative our of small and contradictory trends in the data to 2010, while ignoring the big drop that occurred after the 2010 “double blow” to students. Hipkins was right.

          • Lanthanide 8.1.1.1.1

            I’m not claiming that it is the sole cause of the situation. Merely that it is part of the situation – and that your original comment didn’t adequately refute Ede’s statement.

        • Sacha 8.1.1.2

          “There’s also no visible bump from the Christchurch rebuild.”

          Because they imported heaps of qualified tradies rather than train more locals.

          • Gosman 8.1.1.2.1

            Which makes sense for a skills shortage caused by a one off event like the Christchurch Earthquake.

            • UncookedSelachimorpha 8.1.1.2.1.1

              If you want to minimise the advantages of every opportunity that comes along

              • BM

                Cantabrians would have whined their heads off, if the rebuild was done by an army of hairies learning on the job.

                We needed skilled people and we needed them yesterday, the only way to get the rebuild done at speed was to import the skills.

                I don’t think people quite understand how much of a drag a apprentice is the the work flow.

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.2.1.2

              Except that there wasn’t a skills shortage at all. There was a lack of willingness by business to pay for the skills already here.

              • Craig H

                That’s not the full story – there are some businesses paying less who, unsurprisingly, struggle to find good staff, but many qualified trades positions went up in salary rapidly in Canterbury post-earthquake. $25-$30/hr is common for carpenters, and some get more than that even, plus overtime at penal rates (45-50 hours/week + Saturday was very common early on, with time and a half after 40 hours and all day Saturday being surprisingly common).

                Painters, plasterers, plumbers, drainlayers, electricians, bricklayers, stonemasons – all pay reasonably well even for inexperienced staff.

                There are concrete pump operators and excavator operators getting $55,000 salaries over 40 hour weeks – it genuinely happens (not terribly often, admittedly), and at big and small employers e.g. SCIRT pay good money in that area.

                I deal with employers regularly in this area, and a big, unreported issue is drugs – most big construction and transport employers have a strict no-drug policy, and it impacts on their ability to hire locals, because the locals fail drug tests and therefore don’t get the jobs. Most NZ employers will tell you that dealing with Immigration NZ is a hassle (however streamlined things are, there are still issues unrelated to the employment that can crop up to delay things, like health and character), and they would genuinely rather hire locals where possible because it’s easier.

                • TTD

                  $25 to 30$ per hour for carpenters. what a shit rate!

                • Draco T Bastard

                  $25-$30/hr is common for carpenters, and some get more than that even, plus overtime at penal rates (45-50 hours/week + Saturday was very common early on

                  My nephew’s a carpenter and when the earthquakes happened he looked at going down there as jobs in Auckland were tight. The most he got offered was $20/hr against $25/hr in Auckland. They weren’t even looking to cover accommodation which meant that there was no way he could afford to go. End result: He stayed in Auckland on the unemployment benefit. At least that covered his mortgage whereas the $20/hr wouldn’t.

                  So, yeah, the reason why Christchurch wasn’t getting the trades that she needed was because the greedy schmucks simply weren’t paying.

                  • Craig H

                    That’s less of an issue now (as confirmed by a quick, informal survey of Trademe, where most carpentry jobs in Christchurch are $30+/hr), but I agree that it was a real problem early on.

            • Pat 8.1.1.2.1.3

              except many (if not most) were not qualified tradies…they were largely unskilled , particularly in NZ construction techniques

              • Craig H

                Depends on where they’re from – UK, Ireland, South Africa and Europe are well-trained in the trades, and do well here, especially the slightly older, more experienced workers. Tradies from the Philippines are a bit more hit and miss, but they usually do OK once they have acclimated.

                There are definitely quite a few Working Holidaymakers who come in for a year and leave again, and I think they probably make up the bulk of the unskilled/inexperienced foreign staff.

                • Pat

                  plenty from UK ,Ireland claiming experience that they didn’t have as well

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Yeah, that would be why we’re hearing of so many crappy repairs now.

                  • Sacha

                    And who signed those off at the time – any accountability there?

                  • Pat

                    it is a component of it……the direct cause however begins with an inadequate scope by EQC, seconded by EQR (Fletchers) where a repair strategy that is knowingly inadequate is assembled and presented to a contractor for execution….the contractor then has a choice.

                    • Sacha

                      sounds like an ethical problem.

                    • Pat

                      indeed it is….they (EQC and EQR) have none….the contractor does not necessarily know the scope is inadequate, after all Fletcher’s highly qualified construction and engineering staff have produced the strategy….who are they to question it?

          • Craig H 8.1.1.2.2

            A reasonable chunk of the tradies aren’t imported as such, they come over on the Working Holiday schemes for 12 months. The UK, Irish, US, Canadian and German schemes are uncapped, and are a reasonable source of youngish, skilled labour, and once the work dries up, they’ll stop coming, or find other things to do while here.

            With the downturn in the UK and Ireland especially (their construction industry nose-dived during and after the GFC), a lot of them came out after the earthquakes either temporarily using the Working Holiday scheme as the point of entry if they qualified, or Essential Skills if not, or permanently under the Skilled Migrant Category or Work to Residence if their occupation was on the Long Term Skills Shortage List.

            • Pat 8.1.1.2.2.1

              saying they arnt imported as such ignores the fact that in effect that is exactly the end result….am well aware of the construction downturn in Uk/Ireland but far too many were working outside their field of experience….having said that the quality of a lot NZ tradies (?) leaves a lot to be desired as well..as does the fact the Gov wasted 3 years of relative inactivity and failed to implement any substantial training, including offers from vastly experienced retired/semi retired tradesmen.

              • Craig H

                The key difference is that the working holiday scheme is a reciprocal arrangement for open visas, so has relatively balanced outflows. While there will be temporary imbalances at times, it’s not one-way traffic by any stretch.

  9. her 9

    Unitec got rid of Horticulture training a few years ago preferring to concentrate on vet nursing???

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    who introduced user pays student fees into the university system? Who let student debt rocket up around $4B during their time in government and then treated that “debt” as an asset in order to claim that they had no net government debt? Oh yes, that would be Labour.

  11. slumbergod 11

    What’s the point of studying? The benefits of investing in debt to get educated inevitably lead to unemployment. My two degrees lead to two bankruptcies. Besides, the govt can just bring in more “skilled” immigrants.

    • McFlock 11.1

      One thing I’ve never understood about userpays education is that the payments were originally supposed to cover the “private good” portion of the education.

      But if I’m paying for any benefit I get personally for my education, doesn’t that mean that I have little to no incentive to get that education? Sure I’ll be on a lower salary, but I won’t be 70k in debt for decades. More stress, little benefit. I should have fucking worked in the Warehouse.

      • Sacha 11.1.1

        The old way was for you to repay part of your education through higher taxes on your actual improved income. The risk there would be no improvement sat with society via govt, not with individuals.

        The cost/benefit equation does not stack up for many, especially from poorer backgrounds. An apprenticeship or a basic job would seem a safer bet, even if the rest of us would get more collectively out of them being in a more productive role.

        • McFlock 11.1.1.1

          yep. The old system wasn’t broke, and they meddled with it anyway.

        • Stuart Munro 11.1.1.2

          More importantly, with lower paid but nevertheless critical roles like teaching or nursing, your education benefitted society. You’d be mad to do teaching these days – no money, huge debt, Gnat clowns redesigning the system every few years – you’d be better off going into crime.

      • Gosman 11.1.2

        How much of the education do you think the fees actually pay for? I’ll give you a clue. It is less than 50%. Do you think that perhaps the societal benefit of education is more or less than 50 % of the cost of Tertiary education ?

        • Stuart Munro 11.1.2.1

          The cost of education is always less than that of ignorance – you’re a case in point.

          • Gosman 11.1.2.1.1

            Your failure to pick up on the recent record net migration gains to NZ suggest it is you who might need help on the ignorance front not I.

            • Stuart Munro 11.1.2.1.1.1

              No, if you were awake (and not stupid) you’d know that the bulk of returnees were responding to a downturn in Oz.

              But don’t let the facts prevent you from trying to spin Key’s catastrophic failure into the cusp of something special – they never have before you poor ignorant slob.

        • McFlock 11.1.2.2

          Well, we’re paying through the nose for dentists and tradies. We’re seriously short of GPs. At the moment I’d say the weighting would be about 95% public good 5% private good.

          Note, “public good” is different from your personal private good – I’m sure you don’t have to save up for weeks in order to see your dentist or GP, like some people I know.

        • Again, do you feel the private benefit to you of the upward mobility isn’t covered by higher income taxes? If so, why not?

        • Draco T Bastard 11.1.2.4

          All education is 100% public good. The private good is a derivative of the benefit to society of the education.

  12. Gosman 12

    This is 10 years from 2005. Wasn’t the interest Free Student loan policy introduced after 2005? It doesn’t seem to have worked as expected.

    • Stuart Munro 12.1

      Well of course the Gnats have munted everything – no decent jobs in NZ – everyone who can leaves.

    • lprent 12.2

      It doesn’t seem to have worked as expected.

      It reduced the fall for a few years, but it was just one fragment of an integrated education policy. Then National got in and started to effectively trim the education budgets for most skill courses, and to make it harder for unskilled to take courses to become skilled. For instance axing virtually all of the night courses that have been the usual route for under-educated to get the confidence and track record to gain entry into skills courses.

      But hey, we all know that you are are so simple that you can only focus on one thing at a time. Perhaps you should take some night courses on politics and the use of multiple techniques to form policies. Either that or admit you are a bit of an idiot for using that simpleton’s diversion.

  13. UncookedSelachimorpha 13

    “we find robust evidence that a £1,000 increase in tuition fees reduces university participation by 3.9 percentage points, while a £1,000 increase in maintenance grants increases participation by 2.6 percentage points. These figures equate to an elasticity of –0.14 for fees and 0.18 for grants. These results are in line with those estimated in the US in a number of studies, such as Kane (1995), Dynarski (2003) and Hemelt and Marcotte (2008). ”

    From a UK study on the impact of fees on participation in higher education.
    http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp126.pdf

    Quite a bit else out there on this too. The profound shift away from free education since the 1980’s is a powerful disincentive against participation, for all but the children of the wealthy. Max Key will be fine.

  14. RedLogix 14

    Australia doesn’t seem to have it any better:

    WORKERS have such poor literacy and numeracy skills they can’t do simple sums, type on a computer or give clear ­directions in a worrying trend employers have revealed is cruelling their business.

    The problem has been exposed by an Australian Industry Group study that found staff’s English and maths skills are so bad hardly a workplace in the country is unaffected.

    The report, released today, found nine out of 10 bosses complain they have staff who can’t calculate orders, prepare work riddled with errors or give confusing directions.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/work/cant-spell-cant-count-bosses-lash-out-at-workers-lack-of-skills/news-story/ee58de1da20eb790ead92929fec527ff

    • BM 14.1

      This knowing how to find the information approach of modern education compared to the retaining information approach of the past has some serious short comings when it comes to the trades.

      Rote learning works so much better for trades people.

    • Craig H 14.2

      I remember hiring a young lass to work in fast food, and having to show her how to use a pocket calculator – she could not use one, nor could she calculate change for a $9.90 item from $10.00…

  15. red-blooded 15

    I can agree that rising fees and cutting allowances (especially to older students and post-graduates) has had an effect in pushing down numbers. I do think we also need to factor in a couple of other things, though:
    1) The changes to university funding from a per-head (or “bums on seats”) model to a more complicated system of profiling expected outcomes, introduced by Labour in their 3rd term (and not necessarily a bad idea – remember the “Learn Te Reo by Singing Along to CDs” fuss, as an example of the trends under the old system?),
    2) As a result of this, and of poor outcomes for a proportion of Y1 students, the universities introduced more stringent UE requirements in 2013. School leavers now have to complete L3 NCEA, including 3 or more subjects with 14+ credits from a specified list, as well as gaining proof of L2 literacy and numeracy. In the past there was no specified list and students could miss out on L3 but still gain entrance to university.

    These changes are just part of a bigger picture, but they are each a significant part.

  16. TheBlackKitten 16

    What I find interesting is no one recognises that years ago many of these trades were apprenticeship based and did not require people to burden themselves with high debt to get these skills. The issue we have today is that to get a good paying job you need to get these higher education degrees which results in debt. Young people of today are now required to spend years attending a higher education institute where a) they won’t be earning a high enough income to enable savings for a home and b) where they are building up debt via student loans that will put them even further behind on the ladder to save for a home for their future family. Compare that to when these trades were apprenticeship based. Youth would leave school and would work for apprenticeship wages but would receive on the job training. They were earning a income, yes low but had no student debt. By the time they were in their twenties they were receiving a good income and were in a position to start saving for a family home.
    My point is that higher education institutes are a detriment to youth who want trade skills. Why are we constantly talking about the need for cheaper higher education but ignore the bigger issue in that many of these jobs could and should be returned to on the job training where the employer invests in training instead of the youth of today being saddled with high student debt?
    Sure, there will always be jobs that require a university theory education education like doctors, lawyers and accountants but as for jobs like builders, hairdressers, florists, truck drivers, bulldozer drivers I really fail to see why our youth need to obtain high punitive student loans to do courses at a higher education institute that quite often fail in giving on hands practical experience that employers require in these jobs. The only ones that benefit from this are the higher education institutes and the employers who don’t have to invest in any training of our youth.
    It’s about time that these employers that bitch and moan about skills shortages start investing in apprenticeships instead of being allowed to take the easy option by importing cheap labour from overseas. Many of these trades need to be returned to on the job training via apprenticeships instead of students being forced to obtain debt for training in a classroom that fails to provide the experience needed.

    • Sabine 16.1

      they don’t bitch and moan because of ‘skill shortages’ they bitch and moan, because the skilled workers don’t want to work for the minimum wage. They rather leave the country to work somewhere where they get paid. And then maybe they come back in 10 – 30 years and pay back the student loan and buy a house.

      But the ‘skill shortage’ in many cases is only a shortage of basic pay. Simple as that , if ya can’t get a decent worker for 14.75 $ an hour maybe the job does not pay enough to attract the right people.

      but then i guess in a few more years everyone will be working for a sandwich and a place in the ditch. National, creating low wage jobs since ages ago.

      • TheBlackKitten 16.1.1

        See Sabine you are missing the bigger picture here. What is enabling these companies to hold out and pay these low wages? They can because they import cheap labour from overseas so therefore still get the job done(at a lower standard, but it still gets done). Perhaps if we were not importing so much cheap labour and actually set a standard rate depending on skill as opposed to just having a flat minimum wage across the board, we would not have so many with the skills flocking overseas for better money. And skill shortage due to poor training is an issue. Just look at trades like hairdressing, floristry, building or painting. Try hiring a hairdresser or a painter today that does the job well. You will find the only ones that do are older and had apprenticeship training as opposed to going to some higher learning institute and trying learn what can only really be taught through on hands experience out of a book.
        As I said, higher learning institutions are a huge detriment to youth who want to obtain trade skills today. The only ones they do benefit are the employer and the institutions themselves.

        • Sabine 16.1.1.1

          i don’t think i am missing the bigger picture.

          I have just pointed out one of the missing pieces in this puzzle.
          And we can argue that ‘shortage of skilled people’ by and itself is not the only issue facing employers that need to fill positions.
          Sometimes the skilled people are there, but are not going for these jobs because simply don’t get paid enough to live and pay the student loan.

          I am not a great fan of university or higher learning as the solution to all job problems. As stated above, many many jobs should be taken back into businesses and thought via apprenticeships, alas, we have yet to hold businesses accountable in creating the ‘skilled people’ they need in the future to run their businesses. As of now it seems that it is still cheaper to simply not provide education for the native population but too simply import ‘skilled’ people that will do the job. However, often then these imported skilled people will work for less then a native who has a student loan in NZ to pay back. Why do i know this, cause i watched my Ex Mother in Law employ Lab Technicians for years, and not a single one of them came from NZ. Her budget did not allow for NZ educated technicians so they came from overseas, Indonesia/India in many cases. Lovely people all of them, and to the last they helped depress wages in NZ for their business spectrum.

          sometimes ‘lack of skilled people’ really just translates into crap wages that not a one wants to work for.

          btw. the skilled Nurses that move to England from NZ are in many cases cheaper then the english Nurses, and so the cycle of ‘shortage of skilled personnel’ and wage suppression and economic migration continues. And not one of the workers is winning, but the bosses are laughing all the way to the bank.

          So you see, it actually makes sense for people to stop going to University, its a gate to nowhere.

          • Sacha 16.1.1.1.1

            “we have yet to hold businesses accountable in creating the ‘skilled people’ they need in the future to run their businesses.”

            Yes, like our woeful national record on R&D funding compared with comparable countries, NZ’s businesses largely refuse to meet realistic costs of training and developing staff. And they talk about dependence …

  17. Mark 17

    When those with tertiary qualifications are offered the minimum wage, most think – why bother?
    I’m a qualified computer technician, got a certificate in 2011, was offered minimum wage for that.
    How am I to pay a student loan and every day living expenses on that?

    • BM 17.1

      I guess it’s because so many people have the same qualifications.
      Over supply means lower price.

      Or there’s lots of people with the same qualifications willing to do it for nothing.

  18. Tautuhi 18

    Obviously there is a dysfunctional relationship between the Government and the private sector if we are not producing the right educated people for the marketplace?

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