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NZ education needs shake up to cope with new tech

The New Zealand education system needs a serious shake up to deal with the velocity in which technology is changing the working world, EdTechNZ has said in a submission to the Productivity Commission.

The commission has launched an inquiry into the impact of tech on the future of work in New Zealand, which is a valuable first step for government to be better informed about the effect of tech developments when making policy.
EdTechNZ chair Shane Kerr says they have seen first-hand the impact that deploying new automation technologies is having on people’s jobs.

“We have pooled our collective thoughts to help develop best practice to minimise the impact which is why we have put in a submission to the Productivity Commission.

“We just do not believe that New Zealand’s education and skills system has a shared view of the current or desirable outcomes for a society that is increasingly dependent on digital technologies.

“Consideration should be given to how the skill needs of the tech industry can be better understood by the education sector, perhaps through an industry body forum.

“Future workers will need advanced technical skills to operate in an increasingly digital working environment but also skills for the roles that cannot be easily automated.

“We encourage the commission when considering the subject of skill development and training to apply the World Economic Forum’s 21st century skills concept which include collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

“Workers now and in the future will need an education system that can keep up with the pace of global technical change.

“We’re already seeing firms and companies question the validity of traditional courses of study as their industries undergo rapid transformation.

“It is imperative that the 20 percent of adults described in the commission’s report with low levels of literacy and/or numeracy are provided with effective access to tools and training that can lift their capability.

“There are a number of edtech products and pedagogies that can be further deployed in this area, and the edtech sector could be more effectively incentivised to address this priority.

“Changes in the workplace are moving at a more rapid and accelerating rate than the changes in the education sector, which historically finds it hard to innovate and scale new initiatives quickly in response to industry demand.

“In addition, due to the relatively large numbers of small to medium companies, employers are less likely to plan for or invest in future skills at the expense of the immediate needs and daily pressures of their business.

“These mismatches of capability and expectation are a major and growing problem.

“Not all firms do or will have the same understanding of the skill challenges or make the same level of investment in training beyond their immediate needs.

“Government has a role to raise awareness and urgency of the issue and also encourage the development of training for future skills needs which may not be readily apparent to the employer such as digital literacy. Government investment is required in every scenario.”

EdTechNZ is part of the NZTech alliance.

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