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100 Post-Grad And Masters Students Join A “Community Of Changemakers And Industry Shakers”

(Auckland) Celebrations are in full swing at higher education institute, academyEX, formerly known as The Mind Lab. The institution has proudly awarded Postgraduate and Masters degrees to circa 100 eager achievers. This accomplished group, mainly composed of individuals over 45, women, Maori and Pasifika; or recent immigrants to New Zealand, have mastered themes such as driving positive change, collaborative learning, contemporary education and envisioning technological futures.

The graduation booklet reads: “Today, you step into the future, defined by what you have learnt, discovered, questioned and created. No one can take away all you have gained or limit your potential.”

academyEX believes the cohort represents a positive shift in attitude towards ongoing learning for a wider audience within local businesses. It also believes the next group of graduates will be even larger in number as businesses clamber to offer learning in the areas of technological disruption, leadership and education to their workforce.

Education - no longer a ‘nice to have’

“Post Covid, there was a lot of hesitance around the cost of investing in upskilling; but with the pace of business disruption increasing, businesses are required to respond to constantly changing context faster and at a cadence. academyEX offers up-to-the-minute learning for companies who understand that to compete on an international stage, New Zealand business need to ensure their knowledge doesn’t match; but exceeds that of their competitors,” explains Simona Turin, CEO of academyEX.

Companies who ‘wait’ are at risk

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“Although most companies see learning excellence as an organisational imperative for issues such as compliance; it’s fast becoming a factor that influences staff attraction and retention. Simply put, if you’re not investing in upskilling and growing your people, they’ll go elsewhere,” adds Simona.

Online learning is dead; join the community

AcademyEx was founded on the premise that none of us should ever stop learning - especially those already in careers. But finding learning solutions for a workforce that already has a job; and a myriad of other everyday responsibilities is challenging. In desperation, companies often turn to ‘online learning’; and become exasperated when this fails.

“Online learning is a solo endeavor; and this is exactly why it fails. academyEX has been providing answers to this challenge for over a decade. We believe courses should be designed to be connective; especially when undertaken remotely. We refer to our learning environments as “a community of changemakers and industry shakers”. Our learners often tell us that the real value of being placed in a class of like-minded learners is the luxury of having curious and stimulating conversations about issues that matter deeply to them and, by extension, their communities and whanau,” says Simona.

With an 85% completion rate, it’s a formula that works. What’s more - it works for a diverse audience - the majority of academyEX learners are over 35; migrants or educated Maori and Pasifika - groups who would often find traditional models challenging.

A track record on upskilling New Zealanders

academyEX is the company behind one of New Zealand’s most game-changing, large-scale learning programs. MBIE’s ‘Digital Boost’ is a free online learning program, funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) designed to help small business owners to digitally transform their operating models. This online learning community was ‘made in New Zealand’ for New Zealanders. The project launched in January 2021 with 100 learning videos and associated content just eight weeks after the contract was signed. Two years later, it showcases over 1,000 learning resources and a membership of close to 58,000.

In addition, academyEX also collaborated with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to launch the award-winning ‘Digital Passport’ last year. These free learning modules focus on building digital literacy and essential skills for the job market. With over 4,200 New Zealanders enrolled in Digital Passport and over 40,000 sessions, the initiative has already shown a profound ability to support individuals in building new capabilities, marking a significant step towards a more inclusive and empowered society.

“We’re excited to be playing a pivotal role in how New Zealanders from all walks of life and career stages learn. Importantly, we’re 100 students closer to a workforce that can ‘lead; not respond’ to large-scale disruption and we congratulate every one of them on their significant achievement,” concludes Simona.

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