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Tertiary education enables students to be part of an innovative and successful New Zealand.

The New Zealand taxpayer currently funds on average 71 per cent of a student’s up-front tuition costs for tertiary education through the Tertiary Education Commission.

For students who access interest-free student loans to pay their tuition costs, the overall share of the costs to the tax payer rises to around 82 per cent.

This makes it important for our children to make informed career choices so as to ensure that taxpayers see a return on their investment

Recently, I did a bit of research to find out which sectors of the economy face skill shortages.

I found that a number of sectors of our economy face shortages of skilled workers. Apart from the traditionally high-growth sectors of building and construction and related areas such as plumbing, electrical works and carpentry, other sectors facing desperate shortages of skilled people include engineering, ICT, sciences, architecture and health. 

As New Zealand integrates with the global economy, all of the above skills will continue to be in high demand.

Furthermore, these are skills of the future that will lead to a skilled, well-paid workforce.

Getting more young people into science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) will be vital if we are to meet the demand for skills, both now and in the future. Initiatives such as Engineering E2E (End to End), which aims to produce 500 more New Zealand-educated engineering graduates every year, are already helping to reduce our skills shortages.

We should be proud of encouraging our young people to gain the skills needed for the future of the New Zealand economy. The course completion rates for students within the Asian ethnic group rose from 82 per cent in 2009 to 86 per cent in 2015. I believe we can get this figure even higher by emphasising the importance of higher education in our community.

New Zealand has one of the most generous funding schemes for tertiary education in the world – 5.2 per cent of Government spending goes to tertiary education, the highest in the OECD.

Let us work together to encourage our children to utilise this tax payer funding scheme towards building a better future for all New Zealanders.

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