Social networks and the New Zealand National Qualifications Framework : the state's role in school-to-work transitions.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis is located within recent debates and controversies concerning the relationship between schooling and the labour market. It assesses the contribution made by the State through the National Qualifications Framework in helping poorly qualified, male school-leavers make efficient school-to-work transitions. To explore this issue the study draws on data generated in semi-structured interviews conducted with: 23 male, senior secondary school students and their parents; a selection of educators in secondary schools and private training establishments; and senior officials from Skill New Zealand. By comparing and contrasting the school-to-work transitions of the students with those of their fathers, it is shown that social networks formerly provided poorly qualified, male school students with a way to make efficient school-to-work transitions. However, economic changes of the last two decades have reduced demand in the labour market for semi-skilled and unskilled, male workers, and led to a growing number of poorly qualified, male students remaining in education as "discouraged workers". The emergence of the "discouraged worker effect", as it is referred to in the literature, suggests that the value of social networks has decreased. This decrease is problematic for the State because it has raised debate about the legitimacy of the State education system. It also suggests that traditional ways of organising schooling and structuring school-to-work transitions are no longer effective. In this context it is argued that the National Qualifications Framework is an intervention designed by the State to replace those functions previously performed by social networks. This thesis shows that the attempt to replicate these functions has increased levels of state intervention and that social networks have become commodified.