School of hard shocks
Don’t leave your child in any doubt about what school is for, and why it’s important for them to succeed.
Whatever their ambitions in life, children have no choice but to attend school between the ages of six and 16. Not succeeding is both a waste of their time, and means they have a high chance of living a penniless, hand-to-mouth existence.
Just how shockingly bad it is for children’s futures to leave school with no qualification is shown by data I stumbled over when researching unemployment last week.
I’d been struggling to understand why it often takes people so long to find a job when the unemployment rate is just 5.7 per cent.
I was having a Donald Trump moment, finding it hard to believe the official jobless rate. I started asking questions.
The questions took me to the ’’underutilisation’’ rate, which doesn’t make headlines like the unemployment rate.
That’s a shame, because an unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent would seem to suggest we live in a workers’ paradise, which clearly we don’t.
The underutilisation rate includes not only the officially unemployed, but also part-time workers who want more hours, people wanting work who aren’t available to start tomorrow, and people not looking for work as actively as the Government believes they should be.
And, in June last year, it was 12.8 per cent.
Who are the people counted in this tragic statistic?
The easy answer is ordinary people; people with hopes and dreams; people with families to support; people with incomes they are struggling to live on. But here’s the thing: there’s a heck of a lot more of people from certain groups being ‘‘underutilised’’ by employers.
Overall, New Zealand doesn’t rate too badly.
At 12.8 per cent, New Zealand’s underutilisation rate in June last year was lower than average of 14.1 percent in all of the OECD club of rich countries against which we like to compare ourselves. Australia’s was 21.8 per cent. The UK’s was 11.2 per cent.
But some of us are living with a labour market that is far more like one of those hot European countries that gets called a basketcase, has a national debt that makes its finance minister cry, and which people only want to go to on holiday, not to live.
The underutilisation rate for Maori was 22.8 per cent. That’s about the same as Portugal, which has a headline unemployment rate that’s double New Zealand’s.
For Pacific Island people the underutilisation rate was 18.8 per cent. That’s the same as Turkey’s.
For people with no qualifications, the underutilisation rate was 30.4 per cent. That’s higher even than Spain and Greece.
This is why families need to take their children’s school years seriously, and talk to their children about why it matters.
Children need to know this stuff. They thirst for knowledge. It’s their future. Education is the foundation for that future.
I completely agree that people can succeed in life without passing school cert, but why make life harder than it needs to be?
Learning is a child’s job. Parents are responsible for it happening.
Education is the foundation for a wealthy life. It may be election year here, but the presidency of Donald Trump continues to suck almost all the oxygen out of the political air.
So far, surprisingly little effort has been put into tracing the implications for New Zealand of the stream of executive orders and tweets pouring from the Oval Office.
As promised, President Trump has torpedoed the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, and is already busily bullying Japan into a bilateral deal on US terms.
Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand continue to act if a headless TPP without either Japan or the US is still worth talking about.
For now, Prime Minister Bill English mainly seems relieved to have survived his 15-minute phone call from the new President without provoking any visible or audible damage to US/ NZ relations.
Unfortunately, New Zealand’s interests will not remain immune to the consequences of Trump’s ascent to power.
The White House plans, for example, to scrap the safeguards on net neutrality.
This development should concern anyone who believes the internet is an essential social utility that should be kept affordable and accessible.
Equally alarming are the Trump administration’s plans to cozy up to Big Pharma by reducing the regulatory role of the Food and Drug Administration.
This is an agency that many organisations worldwide – including Pharmac – rely on to assess the safety of medicines.
Other Trumpisms have been harder to detect.
On January 25, Trump signed an executive order called ‘‘Enhancing Public Safety In the Interior of the United States.’’
Section 14 contained this gem: