School Leavers' Toolkit

Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children core knowledge and learning skills. New Zealand’s education system is one of the best in the world. 

But students and teachers have become overloaded with assessment and the accumulation of credits, often meaning our kids miss out on important life skills. We need to be scaling back the excessive emphasis on constantly assessing students and scaling up our commitment to practical life skills.

The Future of Work Commission identified the need to do better in giving young people the practical skills that they need, in the workplace, in their day to day lives, and as members of the community. Businesses say they need young workers with these skills.

Our children need to come out of school with practical knowledge and skills that allow them to take their place in the adult world. Some schools, iwi, and community groups provide this kind of education alongside the core curriculum, but the approach is ad hoc and varies across the country. Labour will ensure it is available for all students.

Labour will: 

  • create a School Leavers’ Toolkit to equip school leavers with vital life skills including:
    • learning to drive and getting a licence
    • having key workplace competencies
    • having financial literacy and budgeting skills
    • knowing their democratic rights and responsibilities 
  • ensure every student has professional personalised career advice before leaving high school 

In Auckland, 70 per cent of entry-level jobs require a driver’s licence. In low-income areas, getting a licence can be an expensive barrier to getting into work. With Labour, every student will be offered five hours of professional driving lessons, a defensive driving course, and free testing for their learners’ and restricted licence, before they leave school. A recent pilot programme conducted by Massey University at Central Hawke’s Bay High School was highly successful.

Workplace competency courses teach the practical community, teamwork, self-management and other skills a person needs in a job. The COMET Youth Employability Programme is an example of the workplace competencies education that helps young people gain practical skills employers are looking for. These courses consist of community service and work experience, as well as taught lessons. We’ll ensure all students have access to such courses as well as developing in-school programmes co-ordinated as part of our career advice policy.

This will include ensuring young people have more opportunities whilst at school to gain practical, certifiable skills that will lead to further training or employment, including but not limited to first aid, heavy machinery licences, marine licences, pest control licences, hospitality certifications, security qualifications, and other relevant vocational certificates.

Financial decisions can have a huge effect on people’s lives – mistakes made when young can hang over people for years to come. Wise use of money can dramatically improve people’s quality of life and ability to support their family. Financial capability is part of the curriculum that is sometimes integrated into other subjects, yet, it is not regularly taught as a dedicated subject in schools. Financial literacy and budgeting courses will be available in all secondary schools so kids can learn about things like tenancy agreements, credit cards, and KiwiSaver.

The decline in voting rates among young people is concerning for the future of New Zealand’s democracy. Only 62 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds voted in the last general election. For young Māori, the voting rate was only 55 per cent. Civics courses equip young people with knowledge of how government and society functions, and the role they can play in shaping it. Labour will ensure these courses are taught in all secondary schools, including by working with the Electoral Commission, and ensure that all students participate.

The School Leavers’ Toolkit will complement the core curriculum, not detract from it. Many schools already successfully fit these kinds of courses alongside, or as part of, core subjects. The cost will be up to $50m a year.

Labour will also professionalise careers advice and integrate it into learning. Every high school will have trained, skilled careers advice teaching staff. This will cost $30m a year. Every student will develop a personalised career plan. 

Funding for these programmes will come from the $4b in additional funding that Labour has committed to the education sector.

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