Local insights report: September 2022

Bay of Plenty's local insights report for September 2022.

Top regional insights

Student attendance in schools across the region has declined. The Ministry of Education data shows this applies to all ethnicities, deciles, and year levels. The effects of COVID-19 have been felt on students and there are reports of students leaving school to enter work. COVID impacts are also being felt by teachers, as teacher shortages in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) are limiting the offering.

The Education Sector reports that students who leave school without the relevant skills continue to struggle to transition from low skilled jobs. They have identified that one of the keys to overcoming this barrier is to provide young people in the secondary sector with transferable skills across numerous pathways. The NCEA Change Programme is an example of improved guidance on how to support these rangatahi to find meaningful employment.

The “Pathway to Work” pipeline is another example of change in the region. There is a paradigm shift occurring within the Bay in the way the region is approaching transition from secondary school into employment. This involves putting the learner at the centre and performing a personalised skills assessment, rather than making decisions based on industry demand. The challenge for those in the education sector is looking beyond their sphere of operation and finding ways to authentically connect to other people in that pipeline, including secondary schools, tertiary and training providers, employers, and industry. A fit for purpose education pipeline is the core of any workforce and yet there are clear gaps in the awareness, knowledge, and relationships of each other and between each other.

Top labour market opportunities

  1. Collaboration between local iwi, schools, government agencies, and Industry Training Organisation is proving successful in engaging and retaining students in meaningful learning. This is providing opportunities for work experience, employment, and future apprenticeships in local industry to promote a strong education to employment pathway. For example, the Whakatōhea Mussels (Ōpōtiki) where school leavers are developing hands-on skills and gaining work experience across the aquaculture sector.
  2. The NCEA Change Programme is enhancing learning. It is promoting equitable access for all students, ensuring literacy and numeracy are now co-requisites to gaining an NCEA qualification. Māori knowledge is also being recognised as having equal status and will be equitably valued and resourced. This ensures deeper learning and clearer pathways to further education or work across all communities in the Bay.
  3. A greater number of schools and education providers are including employable skills in their learning programmes. Several industry employers identified skills they desire in potential candidates, including numeracy and literacy skills, as well as softer skills such as teamwork, communication, self-awareness, and problem-solving capabilities. An example comes from the Ruatoki Valley where the PTIO Trade Academy is supporting young people to develop transferable work-ready skills to prepare them for when they leave the kura.
  4. Eastern Bay of Plenty stakeholders are collaborating to boost digital connectivity in the region. In light of the challenges around digital infrastructure, stakeholders in the Eastern Bay have collaborated to build a business case to push unused bandwidth within school internet connections out to the wider community. If this goes ahead it will create a cost-effective option for household learners to access the internet.

Top labour market challenges

  1. Keeping up momentum of engaging and retaining students in meaningful learning is becoming more difficult. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 is leading to higher levels of fatigue among school staff and communities, affecting their capacity to support students. For example, some schools have been unable to fully support programmes that foster skills and employment pathways for rangatahi.
  2. Schools are struggling with retention of students. School attendance numbers are declining due to the pandemic with some struggling to engage students in the school curricula. They are facing challenges such as self-esteem issues, low interest levels and the demand on students to bring income into the home as a result of pandemic pressures. The Government will be introducing further funding via a new Attendance and Engagement Strategy to help address this issue. Across 16 regions, $80 million has been allocated over the next 3 to 4 years, with $800k of this earmarked for the Bay of Plenty. This may fall short of being able to achieve the desired impact.
  3. Schools continue to struggle with limited teacher supply. While there is good overall supply of teachers across the region, there continues to be shortages of Mathematics, Science, Physics, Te reo Māori, and Hard Materials Technology This has been exacerbated by the restrictions imposed earlier under the vaccination rules.
  4. Poor digital infrastructure is a barrier to learning in high deprivation communities in the region, particularly in rural and isolated areas such as Eastern Bay of Plenty. The lack of connectivity is important as it presents an obstacle to participation in the education system and obstructs learning in affected areas. Even with the rollout of UFB, this will not remove the challenge faced by pockets of households that paying internet providers for services will be cost prohibitive.

The BOP region

  • Te Wharekura o Ruatoki – PTIO Trade Academy: Via the Trade Academy (with buy-in from the kura), the local Māori Land Trust wanted a sustainable pipeline of young people in a succession plan to work on their farms in the Ruatoki valley. The skills these young people are building will enable them to work across multiple pathways when they leave the kura.
  • Health/hauora in the Eastern Bay of Plenty aged care courses were offered at secondary schools, however these were of little interest to rangatahi – this group opt opted to care for their whānau instead instead. This has been a challenge in relation to getting rangatahi into health. This is a pathway where there is huge need to grow the workforce but no youth friendly on ramp.
  • Whakatōhea Mussels (Ōpōtiki) is an example of iwi proactively developing a mussel farm in the harbour utilising school leavers and training them in metal work and construction skills. School leavers can immediately apply to the building of marine farming vessels that will directly support their own community and provide them with a chance to start a lifelong vocation.

Focus for the next 2 months

Focus on seasonality and technology actions in the BOP Regional Workforce Plan.

Trends at a glance

  • Regular attendance numbers in secondary schools across the Bay appears to be trending down from 63% in 2015 to 57% in 2021. With available data for term 1 of 2022 showing a further decline to 44% (Source: Ministry of Education - Education Counts).
  • In the Employers and Manufacturers Association Employers 2018 survey, 57% of employers were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the work-readiness (such as maths and English aptitude, life skills, and attitude) of school leavers, and only 4% were very satisfied or satisfied (Source: Employers and Manufacturers Association).
  • 28% of homes in the Eastern Bay of Plenty do not have access to the internet, compared to a BOP wide percentage of 15.1% and a New Zealand average of 14% (Source: Toi EDA).

Prepared by the regionally led Bay of Plenty Regional Skills Leadership Group.

For further information, please contact: bayofplentyrslg@mbie.govt.nz