The Asia New Zealand Foundation surveyed young New Zealanders aged between 16 and 25. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they hadn’t received study or career advice related to Asia. This is a concern, says the Foundation’s executive director Simon Draper.

“Asia is the world’s most dynamic economic region, accounting for nearly two-thirds of global growth. It’s also the source of many of the world’s most innovative ideas and is only set to grow in relevance,” Mr Draper says.

“We know most New Zealanders understand Asia’s economic importance and that most of our top 10 trading partners are in Asia. We are also seeing demographic shifts at home, which includes a growing number of Asian New Zealanders. But somehow this still isn’t translating into a broad understanding that Asia-related skills are important to our workforce.

“That applies not only to businesses that have an export focus – but also to New Zealand workplaces that are experiencing increased interactions with Asian cultures, including in areas like tourism or social services.

“Our research over the past two years has shown the challenge of raising global citizens ­- those who can study, work and live across cultural and national boundaries. New Zealand wants to produce global citizens who are equipped for the world in which they are living and working – and Asia is a very significant part of that.”

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope has said it is becoming an “economic necessity” to have more school leavers who have Asia-related capabilities, including language skills and cultural knowledge.

Asia New Zealand Foundation’s survey found 43 percent of young people thought more could be done to prepare young New Zealanders to engage with Asia, and about the same percentage were neutral.

Travel experiences had universal appeal for those surveyed, regardless of their knowledge and experience of Asia. Three-quarters of young people said they were interested in travelling to Asia.

“This is important because we know that travel is one of the key ways to increase knowledge of and interest in Asia,” Mr Draper says.

Young people identified parents and caregivers as the main source of influential career and study advice. When it came to advice about Asia, teachers and parents were the leading providers of information. The survey did not identify school careers advisers as a significant source of information about Asia.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation has been developing a “Think Asia” pathway, to highlight opportunities for young people to grow their knowledge of Asia and develop Asia-related cultural competencies.

“We’re looking forward to talking to educators and career advisers about how we can help get more of this information out to young people, so they can take advantage of opportunities to learn about the region,” Mr Draper says.

“The Asia New Zealand Foundation provides lots of opportunities and resources to support young people to learn about Asia. These include classroom resources, professional development events for educators, study grants and business internships – to name just a few.

“As we approach the end of the year, young people will be thinking about their future studies, their careers and perhaps overseas experiences. We’d really encourage them to Think Asia when they’re doing that.”

The online survey of 584 young people (aged between 16 and 25) was conducted by Colmar Brunton for the Asia New Zealand Foundation in June 2018.

The survey builds on other Asia New Zealand Foundation research on the Asia-readiness of young New Zealanders:

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