Smart Waikato finalist in New Zealand awards

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Smart Waikato’s Secondary School Employer Partnerships have been named finalists in the Economic New Zealand MBIE Excellence Awards for 2018.

SSEP, a region-wide collaboration between business, iwi and community involving 22 secondary schools, 2300 students, 110 teachers and 140 employers, is a finalist in the Best Practice in Collaboration category of the New Zealand awards.

Smart Waikato Trust chief executive Mary Jensen said being recognised nationally for collaboration is a “huge pat on the back” for everyone involved in the initiative, which connects Years 9 and 10 students with employers and introduces them to a wide range of careers.

“To be commended for best practice in collaboration is fantastic because communities, businesses and schools working together is what makes the difference to society. I would like to acknowledge the hundreds of stakeholders and supporters who have worked with us to ensure SSEP is so successful in enriching the lives of young Waikato people,” Mary said.

SSEP employers from a wide range of sectors collaborate with school faculties, with the assistance of Smart Waikato, contextualising learning for students.

It is financially supported by Mercury-Waikato-Tainui iwi partnership, MBIE, Waikato Regional EDA, DV Bryant Trust, Glenice and John Gallagher Foundation, SKYCITY Hamilton Community Trust, Waikato Farmers Trust and Community Organisation Grants Scheme.

“Our team has encouraged scores of teachers to commit to working with employers in schools, and hundreds of key employers to offer voluntary time for a three-year period, based around a solid collaborative framework. These new links between industry and education create better transitions from education to employment, greater community wellbeing and a stronger local economy.”

Recent results show having business people in the classroom and going out to workplaces has made 75 percent of students are more interested in the subject area. They also say it has influenced their future subject choices.

It has helped 79 percent of students to understand why they are studying the subject at school, helped 78 percent think about their future career, and increased the likelihood of 62 percent of students staying in the region when they leave school (2017 survey of 544 SSEP students).

SSEP was developed by Smart Waikato over the last four years, beginning with a global literature search in 2015, a pilot of five schools in 2016, growth to 12 schools in 2017 and 22 schools in 2018., including rural, city, coast and full-immersion Māori schools. In 2018 46 percent of 2300 students involved are Māori.

The awards will be held as part of the 2018 Economic Development New Zealand Annual Conference Gala Dinner on the October 18 in the Bay of Islands. Sponsored by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the awards celebrate and promote best practice economic development across New Zealand.

• For more information: http://smartwaikato.co.nz/initiatives/ssep/
• Contact: Mary Jensen 021 295 5951