Engagement NZStory 2015071 1775

Sector group proved a valuable sounding board for our strategy

Sector group proved a valuable sounding board for our strategy

Last updated 10 February 2017
Last updated 02/10/2017

Last year, the Investment Approach Sector Reference Group allowed us to test our thinking with the sector about some of our key initiatives.

The consensus from all involved in the quarterly meetings was that the SRG Group was rewarding and worthwhile.

“Regular engagement with the sector is important to us and we want people to know we’re listening,” says our CE Tim Fowler. “We do take on board what people say and, when possible, make changes to our processes and approaches.”

We are now inviting tertiary education organisations to tell us how you would prefer to engage with us on our key initiatives via an online survey.

 A chance to listen to many different perspectives

Our Operations Directorate Project Manager Murray Johnson attended all the SRG meetings. “We weren’t just talking to the usual suspects. The group intentionally spanned the education to employment pipeline and including an industry representative and several high school principals. They certainly added a different perspective to the discussions.”

Hawkins Group General Manager Corporate Affairs, Nancy McConnell, says being able to listen to and share ideas about what future tertiary sector investment should look like from many differing perspectives provided robust, thought-provoking debate.

“Industry and employers wants skills and educators want qualifications; we need to mould a system that is agile and can respond to the speed of change in industry and employers’ needs. Breaking down our siloed approaches and learning about each other is a great start,” she says.

Open Polytechnic Chair Murray Bain agrees that being part of SRG was a valuable experience. "The challenge all government funding agencies face is to have a sound understanding of the needs of the users of the services they fund. TEC's engagement with SRG enabled the voices of a diverse range of providers to be heard directly. It was very positive to see TEC taking these views into account in its thinking,” he says.

Capability framework – focus on the benefits

TEC’s Murray Johnson says one example of how the SRG has changed our thinking was around the Capability Framework. 

“Where we saw the Framework as something of value to the sector, SRG asked what we were trying to achieve with it. Their feedback made us realise we hadn’t pitched the Framework quite  right and were trying to sell a product rather than engage in a conversation about the need and benefits. We went back to SRG to talk about the why, rather than the what.”

On the other hand, he says SRG supported putting learners at the centre of the system and added impetus to make a difference for our most vulnerable population groups.

EOTE data – agreeing on what to measure

A topic of special interest at the SRG was the Employment Outcomes from Tertiary Education (EOTE) data, in particular what outcomes we should value and be measuring. 

SRG emphasised that tertiary education contributes to a wide range of benefits – economic, social, cultural and environmental, whereas it is easiest to measure employment and better remuneration.

”They said we should take a careful approach when we look at employment outcomes.  Being able to measure the income and employment of young graduates allows us to better assess the return on our investment, but it is only one part of the equation,” says Murray.

“The important thing is that the sector knows TEC hasn’t lost sight of the other outcomes. These are what create public value and a rationale for public expenditure on tertiary education. But the majority of students invest their time and money to get a good job – and so we owe it to them to ensure that is a well-founded expectation.

"We do want to continue this conversation about EOTE data, but at the same time, we need to get on with it – SRG feedback was that measurement does not have to be perfect and that you have to start somewhere.”

How do you prefer to engage with TEC?

With the Investment Approach having now evolved from a new business strategy into the normal way we invest, we haven’t planned any more meetings of the SRG for 2017. Instead, we’re looking at different ways to engage. This may involve seeking SRG member input on particular topics, for example.

To help us plan our engagement we invite you to complete this very short online survey about how you would prefer to engage with TEC this year about our business strategy and initiatives. 

Go to survey

More information

Read more about:

the Investment Approach

the Sector Reference Group