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Subject choice for the future of work: Insights from focus groups

Jan Eyre and Rosemary Hipkins

This research was commissioned by the New Zealand Productivity Commission to inform their examination of technology and the future of work in New Zealand. The main research question asks, in essence:

In what ways are secondary school subject-choice systems, and students’ subject choices, positioned to respond to future of work trends?

The following sub-questions provide more specific direction.

  • Do institutional biases in schools, including the construction and delivery of careers advice, funnel students from different backgrounds toward certain education and career pathways?
  • Is keeping options open until the end of secondary school a good strategy to prepare for an uncertain and rapidly changing future? 
  • Does the system architecture in New Zealand schools unnecessarily limit future choices for students?
  • Does staying in school longer open more career/further study options? Does it close any options? 
  • How much variability is there in the system between schools, and what drives variability?
  • In what ways do policy and regulatory settings limit flexibility in the schooling system and student choices?

This report provides insights gathered from focus group discussions with curriculum leaders representing a range of secondary schools. These insights allow us to contextualise our earlier findings, drawing on the perspectives of school leaders as they respond to these challenges in 2019 and beyond.

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Research report
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