Friday, September 25, 2015

Mixed messages

$10.5m funding boost for maths & science in schools, NZ Government, 27 November, 2013:

The Government is providing $10.5 million in additional funding for schools to raise student achievement in maths and science, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.

“Boosting the skills and achievement of our young people in maths and science are essential for their future careers and for New Zealand’s economic growth and prosperity,” Mr Joyce says.

“The reality is New Zealand needs more people with fundamental skills in science, technology, engineering and maths, or STEM subjects, and that is a strong focus of this Government.”

$199m boost for tertiary education and research, NZ Government, 15 May 2014:
$83.3 million operating funding of the increase will be provided for lifting tuition subsidies in science provision (8.5 per cent increase), agriculture (8.5 per cent), and selected health sciences (pharmacy 16.4 per cent and physiotherapy 12.4 per cent).

“Budget 2014 continues our focus on increasing funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects,” Mr Joyce says.


“Investing in science-based skills is crucial for innovation, productivity and growth in the New Zealand economy which is a key focus of our Business Growth Agenda.”

NZ's competitive edge needs outlined, Otago Daily Times, 19 Dec 2014:
More young people choosing agri-science careers and more scientists prepared to work with farmers are needed to maintain New Zealand's competitive edge, Ballance Agri-Nutrients science extension officer Jeff Morton says.

Mr Morton, of Napier, was invited to give the Levy Oration at the New Zealand Grasslands Association's (NZGA) annual conference in Alexandra last month.

''Often it is the farmer who comes through with an idea and the scientist who tests it, [and together] they make a pretty potent brew,'' Mr Morton said.

AgResearch confirms 20% of staff to go, Radio New Zealand, 24 September 2015:
AgResearch has confirmed it will axe nearly 20 percent of its staff during the next year.

The Crown research institute has confirmed it plans to axe 33 scientists and 50 technicians, as part of a restructuring to cope with a $5 million cut in funding.

However, it will add 18 new scientist roles and nine technicians in growth areas, for a net loss of 56 jobs.

So, the government spends tens of millions of dollars a year to try and encourage young people to pursue careers in science, while repeated CRI mass layoffs make it clear that there's no such thing. If you follow the government's signals and pursue that science degree (which in science means a PhD), you'll find that there's probably no job at the end of it, or that you're terminated mid-career and forced to move overseas or become a taxi driver (or spreadsheet jockey if you're lucky). And then they wonder why people are still choosing arts degrees...