Designing the Future of Learning – An Inside Look into New Zealand’s Education Landscape with Developers Institute

Claudia Reiners
April 1, 2022

Designing the Future of Learning – An Inside Look into New Zealand’s Education Landscape with Developers Institute

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

“Technology doesn’t just replace jobs, it also creates them.” – New Zealand Productivity Commission 

A global shift in business priorities, technology adoption, workforce capabilities and skills shortages have fundamentally changed how we learn and work. 

The pandemic’s impacts have been anything but easy to predict. While experts may have predicted the remote working trend, profound skills shortages and low unemployment rates have shocked many. When the Treasury released their 2020/21 forecast, many labelled it as unrealistically optimistic, despite unemployment rates hitting record lows and skills shortages more prevalent than ever. 

We’ve heard time and time again that the pandemic has accelerated the future of work – and it has – but in many unexpected ways. We spoke to Isabelle Bierwirth of Developers Institute, a leading education provider specialising in web and software development training, about the changing tech industry and how training will be vital in addressing this emerging crisis. 

A round-up of insights into New Zealand’s tech sector

The technology sector is New Zealand’s second-largest exporter, with the top 200 exports generating over $13.9 billion in revenue in 2021. In 2020 alone, New Zealand’s tech sector had 23,292 companies and employed 111,760 workers. These figures are only expected to grow. 

Additional research shows that each new job in the tech sector creates 4.8 new jobs in the service industry, such as marketing, sales, and customer service.

This growth is critical as it enables NZ’s digital economy to:

  • Better prepare for the future and mitigate any workforce crises
  • Create well-paid employment opportunities for workers
  • Support all businesses to transition and operate in the digital space
  • Increase the ever-growing digital exports to enable the country’s economy

While the tech sector may be expected to spike rapidly over the next few years, experts are concerned there may not be enough talent to do the work available.

NZTech Chair Mitchell Pham said, “New Zealand’s tech talent shortage has been pushed to critical levels” due to NZ’s heavy reliance on immigration and border closures.

Why are there tech skills and worker shortages?

A recent survey found over 2,100 open roles at the 271 firms surveyed. 41% of firms were unable to take on new work requests and 29% were unable to complete the work currently underway, therefore unable to meet client expectations.

“Right now, there’s not enough talent to do the work that is currently available. What we’ve got is demand outstripping supply,” says NZTech CEO Graeme Muller. 

Echoing this sentiment is Isabelle Bierwirth, Head of Marketing at Developers Institute. 

“Talking to our network of tech workers, we’ve found that there is not enough talent to meet the current demand – and it won’t get any better unless we prioritise tech training,” says Bierwirth. 

While the tech sector, both in New Zealand and globally, is experiencing exponential growth, the tech worker shortage is creating an “aggressive poaching cycle”. This cycle only represents the small number of talented workers moving from company to company, rather than the sector’s growth as a whole.

But where is the worker shortage originating from? While border closures, lack of immigration and growing worker expectations may be to blame, Muller says the shortage has “to do with a much more complex fault within our education system”. 

When examining the full pipeline – primary schools, secondary schools, universities and the sector as its whole – there seems to be a lack of positive perception about tech roles. This has translated to a declining number of students interested in them and a declining number doing degrees and coming out the other side.

Muller says an Industry Transformation Plan will aim to address the current problems in the pipeline. The plan will support the migration of skilled workers, training more university students and upskilling current tech staff.

A case study – How one education provider is delivering vital tech training in New Zealand

Meet Developers Institute

Developers Institute is a leading New Zealand training, specialising in web and software development training. 

Their mission is to provide accessible, affordable and transformative vocational education, which leads to meaningful employment. They focus squarely on helping people to realise and reach their full potential through education, training and jobs, encouraging growth in the technology sector in New Zealand.

Developers Institute was founded in response to a lack of software development education offerings, despite growing demand locally, nationally and globally for trained developers. 

How is the Developers Institute doing its part to combat the tech skills shortages?

Developers Institute aims to create the conditions for practical learning experiences for students – school leavers, upskillers and career changers – to develop the skills required to meet new challenges of the tech industry.

They model the software development culture in the learning space. Their programmes use the institute’s close relationships with industry partners to facilitate industry mentorship, with instructors working alongside industry mentors to support student success.

Bierwirth says, “All our instructors are industry professionals, ensuring our curriculum remains current and relevant for the working world. We are committed to understanding and implementing a strategy that provides professional training and education, meeting the requirements of a good developer in the marketplace.”

“Our access to industry professionals enables us to find out what our peers need in the industry, and how they are seeing the industry evolve. We then use these insights to shape, build and scale our training programmes.”

Where is the future of education heading? And how is the Developers Institute enabling it?

In Australia, disruption and uncertainty have spurred lingering questions about the state of education – what it will look like and how it will impact both learners and educators. 

However, Australia isn’t the only country wondering about this. The entire Asia Pacific region is one of the fastest developing regions globally, and now comprises 32% of the global elearning market’s growth

Like many others, New Zealand’s education system is facing some challenges. 

While there are multiple opinions on remote learning, Bierwirth says, “it’s clear students want continuous access to teachers”. 

“Students want the flexibility of learning anywhere, they want to remain on the pulse of industry trends. And they do that through our industry mentors and trainers.” 

Developers Institute is the perfect online learning case study. 

Their first-ever cohort commenced as New Zealand went into their first COVID-19 lockdown. From the get-go, the training provider had to pivot, and as of October 2021, they have successfully transitioned into a remote training institute for students and staff.

Micro-credentials vs diplomas – How and what do students want to study in the tech industry?

Bierwirth believes that what students study “depends entirely on the desired outcome of the programme”. 

“For people wanting to upskill their existing tech knowledge, micro-credentials would be a good option.”

“For those new to the tech industry, for example, career changers, an industry-led programme like the one Developer Institute offers provides them with the best outcome to find employment afterwards.”

“The feedback we get from our partners is that students who completed boot camps lack work readiness, particularly when joining a fully remote workplace, and typically require additional training once employed.”

“Some of our graduates are employed as intermediate developers after completing our programme. Our training requires them to immerse themselves into a remote work setting which is very similar to our learning environment, setting them up for success later down the track.”

Changing economic priorities, labour market conditions and skills shortages have left the tech industry shortchanged. But speaking to Bierwirth, it’s clear that education providers will be integral to addressing and solving this crisis.

Thank you to the Developers Institute for taking the time to discuss the importance of industry-aligned skills development and training in our post-COVID-19 ecosystem.

Want to know more? Read about tech and STEM industries in ANZ.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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