Under-served learners: The economic and wellbeing benefits of improving education outcomes

March 1, 2022

A report for Up Education.

UP Education commissioned NZIER to investigate the social and economic benefits of improving education outcomes for under-served learners in New Zealand. NZIER investigated which communities experience disparities in educational outcomes and considered the potential benefits that could be realised if the disparities were resolved.

There is a large body of literature showing the positive and multifaceted benefits of improving education outcomes. The links between education, the economy, health and social settings indicate that education is one of the more influential policy levers for improving the welfare of New Zealanders now and in the future. Under-served learners are over-represented int he statistics about adverse economic, health and social outcomes. But there are opportunities to do things differently to address the needs and settings of those who are under-served. Education can be innovative, targeted and tailored for the needs and aspirations of an increasingly diverse population.

Local evidence shows that qualifications are a gateway to better employment opportunities. In 2020, the employment of people with no qualification was 42%, compared to those with levels 1–3 (64%) and levels 4–6 (74%). On average, a person with a level 4–6 qualification will earn more than $500,000 compared to someone with no qualification during their working life. The level of income difference will materially expand the potential economic outcomes and consumption choices available to those with better education. Better education outcomes are also linked to improvement in health literacy, health outcome, civic participation and a reduction in intergenerational poverty.

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