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How Will Vocational Education & Training Look In This New Future?

Registrations officially open for the New Zealand Vocational Education and Training

Research Forum - 12 November 2020

How the world addresses vocational education and the future of training while operating in a time of great change and uncertainty will be key topics in an upcoming forum attended by global experts from New Zealand and around the world.

The 2020 New Zealand Vocational Education and Training Research Forum (NZVETRF) will take place on 12 November – brought to life by Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, and vocational education experts, The Skills Organisation.

Registrations officially open for the NZVETRF today, delivered for the first time as an all-digital event. Interest is already proving to be extremely high, with a large number of abstracts flooding in from both New Zealand and overseas, and support from global education partners such as the Commonwealth of Learning and the Global Apprenticeship Network adding to the event’s wide appeal.

“The NZVETRF began in 2003 as a dedicated, national event focused on vocational education and training issues,” says Helen Lomax, Director of Ako Aotearoa. “It’s a forum where employers, supervisors, apprentices and support staff can share and celebrate inspiring educational practices that support successful outcomes for all.

“Right now, in the face of a global pandemic, and alongside changes taking place within New Zealand’s education framework, sharing and discussing the future of high-quality training could not be more timely.”

“Ako Aotearoa is proud to co-host this event with The Skills Organisation. We believe that the outstanding research and practice from New Zealand’s renowned vocational education and training sector will be valued by those working beyond our borders, as well as those working closer to home.”

This year, the Forum is going to look a little bit different, as it is an all-digital event but combined with a series of in-person networking events in the main centres. And, along with a programme of high calibre speakers and presentations, delegates will also be able to engage in virtual hangouts and interest-based expert sessions.

“Having this year’s event a digital one was clearly in response to Covid-19,” says Garry Fissenden, CEO of The Skills Organisation. “But this online Forum is also an opportunity – and a well-timed one at that – for the VET research community to network and share, in an environment with truly international reach.”

Among this year’s keynote presenters for the Forum are Professor Leesa Wheelahan, from the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at the Ontario Institute of Studies for Education, University of Toronto; Nazrene Mannie, Executive Director of Switzerland-based Global Apprenticeship Network; and Dame Karen Poutasi, a former NZ Director General of Health and Chief Executive of the NZ Qualifications Authority (NZQA), and the current Commissioner of the Waikato District Health Board.

  • Professor Leesa Wheelahan holds the William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership and is an internationally recognised author and leading tertiary education researcher. She’ll be discussing pathways in tertiary education, the relationships between vocational and higher education, curriculum development, and transitions between education and the labour market. All topics that are highly relevant in today’s environment.
  • Nazrene Mannie is the Executive Director of GAN Global, a network of companies, employer organisations, associations and international organisations that promote quality apprenticeships, create job opportunities for youth and ensure skills for business. Nazrene is a social policy expert and international gender champion and in her role, she works closely with private sector companies and international development entities such as the ILO, World Bank, IOE, UNESCO and OECD.
  • Dame Karen Poutasi, during her time at NZQA, oversaw reforms to quality assurance in tertiary education, a programme of targeted qualification reviews, and a series of improvements to NCEA. Dame Karen was made a Dame Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for her services to health and education in 2020. Her reflections on health and education in the face of a global pandemic will be highly valuable.

For more information on the New Zealand Vocational Education and Training Research Forum on Thursday 12 November and its speakers, or to register for the event, visit

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