Call to rethink ‘tertiary education requirement’ for work in the digital era gains support

We recognise that across a range of skills-based roles, we do not require applicants to hold a formal qualification.

More than 1000 businesses are expected to sign before the yearend an open letter declaring tertiary qualifications are not required for a range of roles within their workplaces.

The open letter, titled ‘NZ Talent’, was initially signed by 100 companies but the number has now reached 200, says Frances Valintine, founder of Tech Futures Lab, who co-led the initiative.

The open letter aims to ‘change the conversation’ around education in New Zealand.

The open letter is an initiative under the ASB/KPMG Strategic Insights Panel (SIP), a group of 30 senior business leaders from New Zealand companies who have set a goal to help double GDP per capita growth from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent by 2021.

The letter points out New Zealand has one of the highest levels of unfilled job vacancies in its history, particularly in fields of technology, science, design and innovation.

“As companies, we recognise that we need to respond to this quickly changing job market...that across a range of skills-based roles, we do not require applicants to hold a formal qualification.”

Frances Valintine, Founder and Chair, The Mind Lab

Solving the talent crisis requires bold new ways to match people, capability and jobs and I believe removing the fixed requirement for a formal qualification is a great first step.

The recognition of these ‘NZTalent’ positions is part of a global trend recognising the growing demand for contemporary skills that are often learnt outside formal education programmes, it states.

The focus during recruitment will be on assessing the skills, attitudes, motivation and adaptability of applicants, it points out.

“Businesses across New Zealand are struggling to find talented employees that can bring enthusiasm, natural talent, passion and potential to their companies as qualifications do not always reflect the true capability of applicants,” explains Valintine.

“We just want to make sure everyone understands there are many ways to employment and that there isn't necessarily a single way.”

“That puts a lot of people off because they see the job ads are full of qualifications that are required and instantly dismiss themselves from applying,” Valintine tells CIO New Zealand. “We just want to make sure that we have the full range of skills are recognised.”

“Solving the talent crisis requires bold new ways to match people, capability and jobs and I believe removing the fixed requirement for a formal qualification is a great first step.”

ASB executive general manager business Steve Jurkovich says he hopes letter will start a conversation around the different pathways to prepare young people for employment and what businesses can do to attract the right talent in the fast-changing job market.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller, meanwhile, says while education is critical for developing specific skills, the value of experiences, developed on the job or through life, can be equally important.

“The way technology is changing jobs means there are many ways to develop needed skills, and as soon as you remove the preconception that everyone needs a degree, you can tap into lots of new talent.”

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As soon as you remove the preconception that everyone needs a degree, you can tap into lots of new talentGraeme Muller, NZTech

Muller says the introduction of digital technologies to the New Zealand education curricula from 2018 for all ages from year one to 13 is a great step toward helping prepare the future workforce for the future jobs that will be highly digital.

“As technology becomes more pervasive we are already seeing the demand for tech skills accelerate across all sectors,” he says. “This demand, plus the rapid growth of the tech sector means the number of job opportunities in tech continues to grow.”

The first 100 signatories to the open letter are: ASB, Adherium, AIA, AMS, Animation Research, Artificial Intelligence Forum NZ, Autex, AWF Madison, Bidfood Limited, Bobux, Booktrack, Buckley Systems, Cardinal Logistics, Catalyst, Ceres Organics, Child Fund, CoHired, Colliers International, Countdown, Criffel Station, Delmaine, Direct Capital, Eat My Lunch, Ed. Collective, Edmund Hillary Fellowship, Enspiral Dev Academy, Epay, Euro Corporation, Exess Connectivity, Figure NZ, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Fonterra, Foodstuffs North Island, Fronde, Frontside, Giftstation, Go Bus, Harrison Grierson, HiFX, Hi-Tech Trust, Hunchbuzz, Iceberg, Icebreaker, Icehouse, iMoko, Intergen, Invenco Group Limited, IT Engine Limited, Jucy, Kiwirail, Kotahi, KPMG, Manaiakalani Trust, Metlifecare, Microsoft, Moa, Mondiale, Movio, My Food Bag, Naveya and Sloane, Next Foundation, Noel Leeming, NW Group, NZ Rise, NZ Tech, NZRS, OMG Tech, Optimal Business Intelligence, Optimisation, Osynlig, PledgeMe, Prestige Law, Pure Commerce, QualIT, Radius Care, Ria, Roam, Ruckus Media, Rush Digital, Safestack, Shine, Skycity, SMX, Solarcity, Soul Machines, Spark, Spidertracks, Summerset Group, Swaytech, Tech Futures Lab, The Exponential Agency, The Mind Lab, The Warehouse, Torpedo 7, Totara Learning, Tourism Holdings NZ, Trade Me, Trilogy International Limited, Unfiltered, Unitec, Vector, Vend, Venture Centre NZ, Vista Group, Waiora Pacific, Warehouse Stationary, WorldFront, Xero.

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