School-leaver work-readiness: the perspectives of students, educators and employers in a rural New Zealand setting

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Grove, Lynn
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Applied Practice
Unitec Institute of Technology
Maurice-Takerei, Lisa
Sheehan, Stephanie
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Riverton, New Zealand
New Zealand
rural schools
school leavers
school to work transition
vocational education
secondary students
rural education
Gatsby Career Benchmarks (U.K.)
Career Benchmarks (N.Z.)
careers education
employer-school collaboration
school-employer collaboration
Grove, L. (2018). School-leaver work-readiness: The perspectives of students, educators and employers in a rural New Zealand setting (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Practice). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What aspects of communication between school-leavers, employers and educators support work readiness for school-leavers? 2. How can schools and employers work together to increase school-leaver work readiness? 3. How can the school-to-work transition opportunities be improved for the benefit of school-leavers in my school? ABSTRACT: Schools and employers occupy very different environments and communication regarding young employees’ skills can be problematic. This study aims to explore the school-towork transition in a semi-rural New Zealand environment, and how this transition might be enhanced to better prepare school-leavers for work. Practitioner Research is the guiding methodology. The data gathering methods used to collect qualitative data were questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. Five schoolleavers, five educators and five local employers completed questionnaires around their perspectives of the current school-to-work transition process in the community of study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three school-leavers, three educators and three local employers in order to gather more detail on their own experience of the school-to-work transition process, and to provide an opportunity for them to voice how they think the process could be improved, particularly in regards to better communication between stakeholders involved in the process. The key findings of the study are that local educators and employers care deeply about the future careers of young people from this community and want to improve communication around work-readiness, that employers prefer students to have life skills above having standardised academic credentials, and that there are programmes already in existence in New Zealand to support the transition of students along these lines, which could be adapted to suit a local setting. Recommendations are that educators and employers should collaborate to help young people develop life skills, through career-integrated school programmes and by providing experiential learning in the workplace. A transition facilitator should be nominated from the school to act as a communication mediator between educators, employers, students and school leavers. Students in Years 11, 12 and 13 should have a personal work-ready plan and should organise evidence of their work-ready skills in a digital application that can be updated during and after they leave school.
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