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Chart of the month: More failing education at the first hurdle

New data released by the Ministry of Education shows that 7,033 school leavers had no qualification in 2018, up 615 people from 2017. The percentage of school leavers without any qualification increased from 10.2% in 2017 to 11.2% in 2018. Delving into the data we found considerable differences between regions (see Graph 1).

Graph 1

The percentage of correspondence school leavers without any qualification jumped 6.4 percentage points to 36%. Although correspondence schools made up only 1.1% of all New Zealand school leavers in 2018, they made up 12% of all school leavers without any qualification. It has always been the case that the number of early ‘dropouts’ in correspondence schools is disproportionally high. It is likely that students who are home schooled are more attracted by joining the workforce early, and recent strength in the labour market may have provided opportunities for youth.

Nevertheless, research shows that two in five school leavers without any school qualification are likely to end up unemployed or not engaged in further education or training (NEET). What makes disengaged students dropout early needs to be better understood if meaningful change is to be made.

Table 1

Regional council area 2017 2018
Auckland Region 8.6% 9.4%
Bay of Plenty Region 10.9% 13.2%
Canterbury Region 8.8% 10.4%
Gisborne Region 19.3% 16.5%
Hawkes Bay Region 10.2% 10.9%
Manawatu-Whanganui Region 9.7% 12.1%
Marlborough Region 8.7% 11.5%
Nelson Region 8.1% 8.3%
Northland Region 14.2% 13.6%
Otago Region 5.9% 8.2%
Southland Region 8.2% 9.0%
Taranaki Region 9.4% 10.0%
Tasman Region 10.0% 11.4%
Waikato Region 11.6% 11.7%
Wellington Region 7.5% 7.2%
West Coast Region 17.8% 13.6%
Correspondence School 29.2% 35.6%
New Zealand 10.2% 11.2%
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