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BOP report highlights key tertiary education priorities

Increasing Māori participation in tertiary education is crucial to the wellbeing and economic growth in the Bay of Plenty, according to a report ahead of a collective action plan to deliver industry-focused education and research in the region.

The Bay of Plenty Tertiary Action Plan (TAP) has been established to develop a collective vision, strategy and desired actions for tertiary education delivery that is closely aligned with local industry and community needs in the region.

The first phase of the action plan has been the creation of a report, consisting of primary research, workshops and interviews with over 100 key stakeholder and community groups, as well as a substantial literature review of existing regional, national and international information.

Key characteristics identified in the literature review, including the 2013 census and the 2014 MBIE Regional Economic Activity Report, include: greater proportions of Maori in the region than the national average, particularly youth; a rapidly increasing population aged over 50; lower income levels than the national average; significant socio-economic imbalances between eastern and western sub-regions, and; a lower proportion of residents with tertiary qualifications than the national average.

TAP Chairman Bill Wasley says the emerging key themes reinforce the importance of a regional approach.

“The literature review has highlighted that education is an essential component of wellbeing in contemporary society, and that tertiary education provides individuals the best life-long protection against unemployment, low wages and poverty.

“Addressing these issues collaboratively at a regional level will have a much greater impact, with resources well positioned to make a difference for our people and economy.

“The importance of an effective and genuine collaborative approach is emphasised and virtually unanimous across all studies looked at in the literature review. This is especially important in areas like the Bay of Plenty, where the scale of resources, funds, students, staff and relevant organisations are more limited than major cities.

“It is also evident that the impact of tertiary initiatives is greater in non-metropolitan areas – one good person makes a big difference in a smaller place. And of course regional policy is important for national benefit, particularly in terms of innovation policy.”

Emerging themes to-date from stakeholder feedback include the need for more engineering skills and entrepreneurship training, addressing the needs of mature and older people, an increased focus on Maori economic development, encouragement of bespoke solutions, supporting new industry development, and connecting and empowering local people.

Next steps for the TAP include drafting the initial action plan, followed by community consultation and feedback on the draft plan scheduled for mid-August.

The TAP is supported by the Bay of Plenty Tertiary Education Partnership (which includes Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, University of Waikato and Waiariki Institute of Technology), local industry and local government (Bay of Plenty Regional Council, SmartGrowth, Priority One, Grow Rotorua, Toi EDA and Taupo District Council).

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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