Maori learners are getting more out of workplace-based training in recent years according to the Industry Training Federation, as the results of a two-year research project are released.
The research, commisioned by the federation and three training organisations with funding from AKO Aotearoa, sought to identify the key characteristics that affected the performance of Maori learners in workplace-based training such as apprenticeships.
At the same time, figures recently released by the Tertiary Education Commission show a significant improvement in the performance of Maori learners in industry training between 2010 and 2011. Credit achievements were up from 55 per cent to 62 per cent and programme completions up from 46 per cent to 56 per cent.
Chief executive of the Industry Training Federation, Mark Oldershaw, said industry training is of increased importance for New Zealand’s transition to a skills-based economy.
"With Maori youth set to become an increasingly larger proportion of the working population in upcoming years, the findings of the research are both very relevant and timely.
"It’s critical that we encourage more Maori youth into industry training and make sure we do all we can to ensure they succeed and thrive.
"We’ve captured some real success stories in our study and the participating training organisations are keen to capitalise on the lessons learned to bed-in further improvements."
The research showed that a multi-pronged approach was required to ensure the full skills and capabilities of Maori youth were harnessed and effectively contributing to New Zealand’s economic development.
"For example, it emphasises the importance of the wider family to Maori, and reinforces the need for training organisations to acknowledge and embrace this," Mr Oldershaw said.
"We need to draw on the power of the whanau, both in its critical role of directing youth towards particular industries as career choices, and in its invaluable support and encouragement of the learner throughout the challenge of study.
"We also need to better understand and make use of traditional Maori approaches to both learning and interacting."
The concept of an older person taking a younger person under his or her wing and passing on knowledge is something very central to Maori educational practices - very similar to the European concept of mentoring, Mr Oldershaw said. The research demonstrated that establishing strong and mutually respectful mentoring relationships was one of the key factors in the learner’s success.
Other key characteristics of Maori learners were their preference for working in teams and their discomfort with standing out overly much from their peers, Mr Oldershaw said.
"These attributes, once recognised, can be turned into real strengths for their employers." For example, modern businesses were increasingly recognising the value and importance of teamwork, and the benefits to be gained by encouraging mutual respect for the contribution of all members of staff.
These concepts sat very comfortably with the Maori view of both learning and working.
The research was undertaken by Kahui Tautoko Consulting and involved numerous and intensive interviews with learners, trainers and employers that often extended over many months. The participating industry training organisations - the Motor Industry Training Organisation (MITO), the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), and The Skills Organisation - were already using the results of the research to build improvements into their training practices and their communications, Mr Oldershaw said.
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