Unis must view learning as life-long - Schleicher

Unis must view learning as life-long - Schleicher

Published on 25 July 2013

The ACU in association with Universities New Zealand held its Graduate Employment Network Conference at the University of Auckland Business School, between 11 and 13 July 2013.

The theme for the conference – Exploring the value of higher education to the economy – sought to examine the extent to which university graduates are able to meet their own aspirations as well as society’s expectations of them, a pertinent topic given the difficult economic climate of today.

Renowned education expert Dr Andreas Schleicher used the keynote speech to challenge universities to view learning as a life-long endeavour and to harness the power of data in order to equip themselves to better demonstrate how universities benefit society through producing employable and socially conscious graduates whilst driving economic growth.

Delegates also heard from a distinguished line-up of speakers, including Professor Roy Crawford (Chairman, Universities NZ), and the Secretary General of the ACU, Professor John Wood.

Honourable Steven Joyce (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, New Zealand) spoke on the opening morning of the conference with Professor Rajesh Chandra (Vice-Chancellor, University of the South Pacific) responding on the topic of graduate employability.

Professor Chandra tied in his institution’s efforts to increase the employability of its graduates with an anecdote from Steven Joyce in which the Minister revealed that he had hardly used his initial degree in a professional capacity yet had still managed to benefit enormously from the broader skills that he had developed whilst studying – skills that should continue to be developed over one's lifetime.

The focus on retaining and developing skills recurred throughout the conference and emanated from Schleicher’s keynote speech which he concluded by saying: ‘We need to think more about what learning over a lifetime will look like. We are very good at putting a lot of knowledge into people when they are young but we’re not very good at making learning a lifelong experience.

'Universities could be part of the solution but they are also part of the problem because they’ve very much geared all of their programmes towards young people.'

He suggested that greater emphasis be placed on nurturing and developing skills over the course of a lifetime, rather than accumulating qualifications during youth: ‘The qualifications that we got one day, are not always equivalent to the skills that we use today. I have acquired other skills and they are not reflected in any certificate that I have… We’re not really thinking enough about the skills people have (as opposed to their qualifications) and how we can best develop these skills.’

For further insights into the conference, you can read the University of the South Pacific’s article. Further content from the conference is available, including a special blog post from Dorothy Garland and photographs. A podcast of Dr Andreas Schleicher's talk is available on Soundcloud. Presentations will be available shortly.

For more about the Graduate Employment Network please click here.