Mon 20 May 2019

WITT outlines the future of education

WITT’s deputy chair Lyal French-Wright says students graduating from the Polytechnic can expect to have 25 different careers – and will return for training to do work which doesn’t exist yet.

He told Friday’s WITT graduands ceremony the three certainties of life were now taxes, death – and change.

And that change is exponential.

“You won’t have to retrain every three years – there will be just-in-time training, short courses which you will complete, supported by your employer.”

The move to gearing tertiary education to become nimble and dovetailed to the changing needs of employers has been enunciated throughout the year by WITT’s chief executive John Snook, who has led the polytechnic since February.

 In his first speech to WITT graduands he told them they could never be “less educated”.

“Getting your diploma and degrees is a significant step up. Society and the world is changing fast and we question what role we will play. To future-proof, we must educate”.

That future for Taranaki involved a change from traditional agriculture methods and using fossil fuels to sustainable farming and clean energy production.

He said WITT supported the Government review of tertiary education and it involved transportable technologically advanced education.

Taranaki DHB chief executive Rosemary Clements was the guest speaker at the evening graduation ceremony.

She told the audience at the TSB Showplace she was a former WITT – in those days Taranaki Polytechnic – student who began her nursing training­ as a mother of two.

“It was the best and most sensible move I ever made.”

She subsequently furthered her education in the business field when WITT facilitated a masters’ option with the University of Tasmania ‘”and within six months I was chief financial officer with the DHB”.

As its chief executive “I have reached a place I never dreamed of”.

She said she initially sat as one of three female chief executives out of 20 in health – today there were seven.

She told female graduands “the world is yours” – and balanced that by telling the males that 83 percent of the DHB staff were women.

Former New Plymouth Boys High head Lyal French-Wright also touched on his education background and spoke of how opportunities for students had improved as understanding of their obstacles grew.

He cited cases of students with dyslexia and dyscalculia careers paths were blocked by the rules and teaching beliefs of the 1970s.

The life of a student who struggled with her times tables changed when she was allowed to use a calculator. She became a “brilliant” maths teachers.

Another student with dyslexia became one of the world’s top yacht designers – but still could not write a letter.

More than 250 students attended graduation or certificate ceremonies on Friday and hundreds lined CBD streets to watch the annual student march.