Key Waikato leaders turned out en masse recently to hear how a ground-breaking regional initiative is improving education to employment pathways for the region’s young people and addressing future workforce gaps.
More than 140 guests, including secondary school Principals, their board of trustee representatives, business and local government leaders, attended the biennial VIP Smart Waikato Leadership Summit on May 10.
Findings from Smart Waikato’s Secondary School Employer Partnerships (SSEP), an initiative improving the way schools engage with local employers, were unveiled at the invitation-only event at the University of Waikato’s Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.
Guests learned how the New Zealand-leading partnerships between schools and employers are improving student retention, achievement and education-to-employment pathways. Many offered to support expansion of the programme to further schools in the region.
Films of six SSEP pilots at Fairfield College (maths), Hauraki Plains College (English), Thames High School (Business Studies), Hamilton Boy’s High School (IT and metal tech) and Morrinsville College (science) were premiered.
Smart Waikato Trust chief executive Mary Jensen said SSEP is directly enabling schools, students and teachers to work with employers to create context around what is being taught at school.
In 2016 the trust piloted the initiative, with more than 48 employer partners working with five pilot schools, 26 teachers and 731 Year 9 and 10 students to create contextualised learning opportunities for students.
“It is clear that SSEP is a real and practical way the businesses and schools can work together so everyone benefits. Waikato is working together and working smarter to ensure we are leading New Zealand with better education to employment pathways,” Mary said.
Of students taking part in SSEP, 79 percent said the initiative helped them understand why they were studying a particular subject at school.
“More than 90 percent of teachers involved in the initiative said it had positively impacted their professional development. It is clear the partnerships are a win-win for employers, students and educators.”
Smart Waikato’s role is to establish best practice, encourage school and employer participation and assist in the support and sustainability of SSEPs, running in 12 Waikato schools in 2017 including Hamilton Boys’ High School, Fairfield College, Morrinsville College, Thames High School, Hauraki Plains College, Cambridge High School, Fraser High School, Ngaruawahia High School, Te Kauwhata College, Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, Rototuna Junior High School and Huntly College.
The Leadership Summit was supported by Waikato Means Business, Waikato Federated Farmers
Charitable Society, University of Waikato, Gallagher, Stafford Industries, Te Wananga o Aotearoa,
Foster Construction, DV Bryant Trust, VO2, Hill Laboratories and WEL Energy Trust.