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Ministry of Education

  • #1 in Public service & utilities
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Elliot Jones

At its core all my work is about making a difference for people. As an added bonus, every now and then you find yourself in a meeting with a bunch of really amazing people all trying to make things better.

What's your job about?

The Ministry of Education is the Government’s lead advisor on the New Zealand education system. I work in policy, where basically we work on ways to improve outcomes in the education system. There are a number of different ways we can do this. Sometimes it will be by getting more money in the Budget, or by changing the legislation, or by altering the lens through which decisions get made.  

I’ve worked in two different parts of the Ministry of Education working in policy. I started off in the Strategic Policy team in Education Infrastructure Services, where policy to help look after the property of over 2,100 state schools is developed. I’m just about to finish up with the Māori Education Policy team in Education System Policy, where we work on policy to improve the experiences and outcomes of Māori learners.  

Across these two very different teams I’ve done a variety of work from responding to specific queries from the public to writing briefing notes for the Ministers. I’ve worked with people from across the Ministry of Education, as well as across the education sector. 

The work varies, some weeks you could be working on one big thing, while others weeks you could be working on many different things, and responding quickly to requests for information or advice from other parts of the Ministry or from the Minister. 

What's your background?

I grew up in Auckland, and studied at the University of Auckland. I worked a range of jobs while studying, including three years at McDonalds. I knew I wanted to work in the public service so after I finished university I ended up working for an agricultural fencing and timber products company, while I job hunted. It is surprising how much I draw on the various and assorted jobs I have done before coming here.  

I joined the Ministry as part of the Graduate Policy Analyst Programme in January 2019. I wanted to do work that makes a difference for people. I get to do that here. The exciting thing about working in education is that it has an impact on everyone. We all interact with the education system at multiple points in our lives. The problems are complex, and everyone has an opinion on what should happen, which makes things challenging but also exciting. 

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely. To work in policy you need to be able to communicate, problem solve, and be willing to learn about new things. There are a whole lot of different ways to can get these skills. Also there is great value in all the different backgrounds and ways of thinking that we each bring to our work.  

What's the coolest thing about your job?

At its core all my work is about making a difference for people. As an added bonus, every now and then you find yourself in a meeting with a bunch of really amazing people all trying to make things better.

What are the limitations of your job?

We advise the government of the day, regardless of who that is. It is one of the great things about our system of government. However, it is not for everyone.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Start assignments early – I think this is something we all aspire to do. 
  2. Come away with more than just good grades – The academic aspect is only one part of all of our stories, so don’t forget to get some life experience
  3. Branch out – Study some random things, read widely, challenge your opinions. You never know when you’re going to draw on these things, or how they will improve the way you do things, until the time comes.