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New Zealand universities back micro-credentials

New Zealand universities back micro-credentials as skills gap shortage grows in cybersecurity

Global IT heavyweight, Cisco, is set to lead the growing cybersecurity skills gap shortage in New Zealand with early support from the tertiary sector and industry bodies.

Research released today, in collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington and The University of Waikato, reveals the successful global trend of micro-credentials being delivered across various tertiary levels and the exciting opportunities for New Zealand to follow suit.

To support the growing need for more cybersecurity experts, universities around the world are delivering micro-credentials through partnerships between industry and tertiary providers.

Now, this similar approach is being recognised and supported as a possible way forward for New Zealand.

“Education is ongoing in the IT world and micro-credentials provide an excellent way to upskill in highly specialised areas of technical knowledge, like cybersecurity,” Victoria University of Wellington, Head of School of Information Management, Dr Janet Toland said.

The research drew from global and New Zealand-focused insights with interviews conducted with cybersecurity academics, career and academic advisors, professional development directors and an IT services manager.

Globally, micro-credentials are delivered successfully through partnerships between industry providers and tertiary institutions with a trend toward credit-bearing postgraduate qualifications.

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“It really does make sense for New Zealand universities to partner with organisations like Cisco to deliver these courses. We have the educational and research expertise and they have the state of the art technical knowledge to ensure what is offered is exactly what employers are looking for,” Dr Toland said.

The research reiterates the rapidly growing need for cybersecurity specialists with industry respondents in support of developing a system that will help fill that skills gap shortage.

Currently there are 226 employers in New Zealand and across the globe searching for educated candidates on Cisco’s Talent Bridge Matching Engine, and over 3,500 open opportunities.

The matching engine is a free tool designed to help businesses find and hire the right talent, with new employers and job opportunities posted daily.

Micro-credentials are likely to become increasingly valuable to tertiary students, Dr Toland said. “They enable students to quickly upskill in the areas that are most immediately relevant to their careers.

“At the moment there is a lot of interest at the postgraduate level. Mature students appreciate being able to access education in “bite sized chunks” to fit in with their busy lifestyles.”

As a leader in cybersecurity, Cisco are working to see this positioned as a national priority.

“This research has reaffirmed the significance of developing an approach that will support areas of national importance, like cybersecurity. Our vision is to work alongside government and education providers to help meet those skills shortages and the challenges facing the growing digital economy,” Cisco New Zealand, Country Director, Dave Wilson said.

Cisco’s commitment to education and skill development in this area remains central to its operations. This year Cisco celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Networking Academy - an IT skills and career building program available to learning institutions and individuals worldwide.

The program has reached 9.26 million students in 190 countries across the globe. In New Zealand, the Cisco Networking Academy has partnered with colleges, universities, vocational schools, public sector and nonprofits across the country and has enabled over 27,600 students to gain access to industry-relevant ICT skills.

“In an increasingly digital economy, there is unprecedented global demand for cybersecurity knowledge and skills. The Cisco Networking Academy’s Cybersecurity courses help to upskill individuals to build the workforce of tomorrow,” Mr Wilson said.

Over 490 students in New Zealand have undertaken Cisco cybersecurity courses to date.

Research insights in brief:

There is a growing need for more cybersecurity experts globally and in New Zealand

There is local support in developing a programme that will help fill skills shortages in cybersecurity

New Zealand industry and tertiary leaders support the future delivery of micro-credentials in partnership with an expert provider [like Cisco]

Universities across the world are delivering micro-credentials successfully through industry and tertiary partnerships

Globally, micro-credentials are being delivered with a trend towards credit-bearing qualifications


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