Monday, April 14, 2014

Universities are not delivering - for everyone, but that's fine, others are.

On Friday last week, I dropped it at the Directors Fono for PILOT (Pacific Island leaders of tomorrow),  which supports and promotes education to young Pacific students, from Year 10- Year 13.

 The programme is offered by tertiary providers, CareersNZ and is mainly in the Auckland region.

Last year, we took this to Waikato for the first time. Yay!

Anyhow, fantastic programme and its the place where students feel comfortable and are celebrated.

They also do a comprehensive job of following up, right through to calls to students at end of year 13 - checking that they are progressing into whatever institution or appenticeship etc...if they are not, or are unsure, we refer them to the right person/group/CareersNZ and the aim is that we can direct them to their desired pathway.
No one gets left behind.

In a perfect world, ALL students of Pacific descent would be doing PILOT for one day of the year, and then attend the Family evening with their family or influencers.....that is the solution to underachievement and lack of engagement today.

The Fono was hosted by NZMA (New Zealand Management Academy) at their state of the arts facilities at Sylvia Park.

I come from a University background, and in my time with PILOT - I have come to appreciate and value the work, blended learning and tailored approach that private training establishments offer to students in New Zealand. Places like BEST Training where my friend Li Ilolahia works. He knows his students. Places like Martin Hautus at Onehunga and most recently in Samoa - where they will continue their wonderful work getting students into quals. Again, Pulotu Selio and his family take a very very keen interest in ensuring their students succeed. They are passionate about their learning. And hey, its not everyday that you sit down for a coffee and the founder of the Institute rocks up and asks how you are. 

Being around colleagues who work in PTE space make me envious at the adaptable nature of their organisations. They matter. They influence. Their students are truly their focus.

This was clear in my mind as I drove into NZMA and someone walked out to specifically tell me where to park, and walk me (and the other attendees into the building).
Now, the building.
Once again, unlike most Universities, this building is alive and reflective of the users. There are no sculptures and large pillars depicting an artistic ra ra ra....this is a building that is utilized, lived in and functional.

The classrooms are not closed in, there is noise, interaction and learning is visible.
We walked past rooms in the hospitality section and students, all in their respective uniforms/gear are working, a tutor is at a 'bar' judging a student's work, while others prepare their turn in groups. There is so much activity and my mind is stimulated - I feel like I am missing out in all this interactive learning.

It makes me think of Universities' bland offer - beckoning students to come sit in their stark dull classrooms, or to be among 300 other students - facing a lecturer who will drone for 2 hours about regression analysis and qualitative research. You sit and write, take notes and try to stay awake.

My point is this, ....many of the parents and people I meet, are thinking about getting their sons and daughters into University to get a degree. That is their ultimate goal. (And not neccesarily that of the student's).

And I have seen so so so many Pacific students go into that pathway, without the required skill or interest to succeed. Yet - we continue to push push push Pacific students to do this.

University is not for everyone.
We are sometimes so busy promoting Universities, even to those who would have found joy in a qualification from a PTE or Polytechnic or in an apprenticeship. Today, Universities are striving to address these gaps with promises of 'practical learning experience' but really? And what percentage of the course is actually practical?
More so, when they do get into the workforce, do they have the desired skills to do the work?

I have come across so many University students who are struggling to find jobs, but have ZERO work  experience, or their CVs are so badly written, couldn't draft a letter or lack communication skills in the workplace...so, what's my point?

Simple:

-Continue to encourage parents and students to understand ALL their options, be it Universities, PTEs, Polytechnics, apprenticeships, internships, cadetships etc.

I have other points, but this isn't the forum for it, hah (:

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