Magazine article New Zealand Management

INTOUCH : Comment on a Bigger Role for Business in Education

Magazine article New Zealand Management

INTOUCH : Comment on a Bigger Role for Business in Education

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Taylor

As a Secondary Futures Guardian, I was enormously encouraged by Tim Watkin's cover story in NZ Management magazine's June edition on educating New Zealand's future managers.

Particularly encouraging was Watkin's comment that the government officials, educators and business leaders he interviewed had all used the same language. This suggests that there is both a general awareness that change is needed in our education system and a measure of agreement about the broad direction that change should take. That has been Secondary Futures' experience also.

Secondary Futures has been engaged in a comprehensive four-year project, with a wide cross-section of New Zealanders exploring how secondary schooling should look 20 years into the future if more students are to be more successful.

We are now delivering back to the public the findings from this engagement through a series of five theme papers, the fourth of which -- "Community Connectedness" -- will be released later this month and is of particular relevance to business.

Community Connectedness" is not a policy document and is suggestive rather than prescriptive because it is impossible to be dogmatic about the future.

The paper foresees a society in which learning is highly valued and is always spoken of as an investment, never as a cost. The school is still important but the 'silo' mentality with its assumption that learning is delivered by the teacher and confined to the classroom is no longer tenable.

New Zealanders envisage an interactive, vibrant interchange between the school and the community with students able to draw from wide learning networks encompassing businesses, government and non-government service providers, cultural and sporting agencies and others with skills and expertise to offer.

It is a future where learning is life-long and accessible from a multiplicity of learning centres, some of which will have learning as their primary function but others of which will be dedicated primarily to other pursuits such as commerce, the arts, culture, health and physical well-being.

Tying these resources together will require new thinking and new infrastructure. Imagine a national website -- LearnMe.co.nz -- which lists all of the learning opportunities available by skills category and geographical area. Imagine the emergence of a new occupation -- the learning broker -- whose job it is to link learners with learning providers. Imagine businesses marketing themselves on their investment in learning, much as many now seek to brand themselves by their commitment to the environment. …

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