Many businesses require skilled workers, so the Productivity Commission's issues paper on new models of tertiary education has important implications for businesses. The trends in employment and education will also have significant impacts on communities around New Zealand. The full issues paper is available here and initial submissions are due by 4 May 2016. Here's a summary of some key points.
There is a need for an increasingly educated workforce
Technological advances could make a large proportion of existing jobs obsolescent in the coming decades.
Based on current expectations of technological trends, the jobs most at risk are those with lower wages and requiring low levels of educational attainment. Analysis suggests 46% of New Zealand’s workforce faces a high risk of computerisation, which is similar to estimations for the United States.
Historically, routine and manual jobs (which tend to be low-wage and low-skilled, and which a computer can more readily undertake) are more at risk of decline than non-routine or interpersonal roles that require contextual judgement and emotional input.
This skills-biased technological change may mean that a large proportion of working adults will need to upskill and, in some cases, gain new qualifications to stay employed – including those who already hold qualifications. This proportion of students re-entering tertiary education could therefore be much larger in the future.
A 2013 survey of businesses reported 41% with difficult-to-fill vacancies.
Half of those businesses identified applicants lacking the necessary “qualifications or skills” as a reason. Other common explanations included applicants lacking the desired attitude, motivation or personality; that they lacked work experience; and that there were not enough applicants (Statistics New Zealand, 2013).
New Zealand’s economy has a growing services sector and shrinking goods-producing and primary sectors. This trend increases the importance of skills development, the availability of skills in the labour market, and their effective use by employers. This is because performance improvement in the services sector relies on the acquisition, manipulation and application of information – and this is strongly influenced by worker skills.
How might tertiary education be delivered in future?
Technological change is improving quality and reducing costs in tertiary education in many countries, and has further potential to do so. For example, computer programmes are increasingly able to personalise content or customise learning based on individualised assessments and some argue that massive online open courses (MOOCs) offer the potential to radically increase the output of education without compromising quality.
The Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission consider there are a number of implications of MOOCs in New Zealand:
Impact on international student numbers
International education is one of New Zealand’s largest exports. In 2014, more than 54,000 international students were enrolled at tertiary providers.
Commentators have identified a number of risks that New Zealand providers face in serving the international student market, including:
The full ‘New Models of Tertiary Education’ issues paper is available here.
It considers five major trends:
Anyone can make a submission. It may be in written, electronic or audio format. A submission can range from a short letter on a single issue to a more substantial document covering many issues. Supporting facts, figures, data, examples and documentation should be provided, where possible.
Submissions may be lodged at www.productivity.govt.nz or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Word or searchable PDF format is preferred. Submissions may also be posted, but an electronic copy should be emailed as well, if possible.