New Zealand’s tertiary sector has a crucial role to play in helping to address the huge skills shortage we are seeing across New Zealand industries.

Brad Olsen, Principal Economist and Director at Infometrics and a leading economic commentator, says with the difficulty New Zealand is experiencing around finding skilled workers, as well as changes to New Zealand’s migration rules, there needs to be a clear focus on better workforce planning and delivery.

“New Zealand’s economy has responded strongly since COVID-19 hit,” says Olsen. “But different sectors, regions and groups have experienced an uneven recovery and there remains some uncertainty for the future.

“The way New Zealanders work and study will need to change, with more digital options, smaller, more pivotable training solutions, as well as a greater focus on building strong talent pipelines. How we get ourselves into a position to address this skills shortage should be a key priority.

“Longer-term changes to New Zealand’s workforce, such as an aging population and different migration settings, mean we need to act now to ensure people have the right skills in the future.”

Olsen will be tackling this topic in his keynote address in the upcoming New Zealand Vocational Education and Training Research Forum (NZVETRF), the annual forum for the Vocational Education & Training (VET) community, which will be held online on 8 & 9 September 2021 from 12.30pm to 5pm.

Brad Olsen

The NZVETRF is in its 17th year and has become known as a crucial event in the VET calendar for the community’s leaders and practitioners to have cross-sector discussion and networking, and the opportunity to draw on research and practice across all the tertiary sub-sectors.

The event, which is sponsored by Skills Consulting Group and Ako Aotearoa, is themed A Journey Through Change, and will touch on the ongoing effects of COVID, their effect on the tertiary landscape, and the sector transformation that is taking place through the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE).

Olsen, who was named the 2020 Young Wellingtonian of the Year, will be giving his view on the economic effects of COVID-19 and the reimagination of the New Zealand economy, as jobs are lost, business practices change and the “new” normal emerges.

Alongside Olsen, this year’s programme features a number of international keynotes, including Olly Newton, Executive Director at Edge Foundation UK, and Wolfgang Steinle, Deputy Principal at Kerschensteinerschule Stuttgart. Both will bring important perspectives on advanced apprenticeships, youth employment and effective partnerships between education providers and business – a topic highly relevant to the current VET system changes in New Zealand.

ConCOVE and the Food and Fibre CoVE will also be appearing in an exclusive panel as part of the forum, to discuss their role and work in the reformed VET system.

Skills Consulting Group’s reach and experience in the international education sector meant the 2020 event was able to achieve an impressive international reach.

“This forum is extremely relevant for all players across industry sectors,” says Garry Fissenden, CEO of Skills Consulting Group. “It is for policy makers and educationalists, but also employers and those involved in the wider training and education of employees across all industries. It is where we can talk in-depth about the roadmap we need in this country to build the skills of the future.

“It’s an important discussion to be having right now and could hold the key to where we go from here in terms of closing that skills gap.”

Ako Aotearoa says that having a dedicated event where those in the wider VET community can come together to share experience, research and practice for a successful outcome for all is hugely beneficial.

“Ako Aotearoa is proud to partner again this year with Skills Consulting Group. This continues the legacy of sharing evidence and best practice on work-based training success at the NZVETRF since 2004,” says Helen Lomax, Director of Ako Aotearoa.

“We also look forward to launching the Dyslexia Friendly Quality Mark (DFQM), an exciting new opportunity to support organisations and learners/trainees with neurodiverse needs in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond,” says Ms Lomax.

Even though the event has previously been in-person, Fissenden says continuing with the virtual environment, which is state-of-the-art and hosted on ground-breaking 6Connex technology, was the obvious choice. It looks and feels like a real conference, with an auditorium, networking lounges and sponsor booths.

“We have chosen to keep the event online as it provides the opportunity for a truly immersive forum, which enables participants to network and interact with peers, both within New Zealand and internationally.”

For the full list of presenters at this year’s forum on 8 & 9 September, a detailed schedule and more information on how to register, visit https://vocationalforum.org.nz/.

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