The Future Work Skills in New Zealand – What Education Providers Need to Know

Claudia Reiners
March 18, 2020

The Future Work Skills in New Zealand – What Education Providers Need to Know

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

With the nature of the workforce changing rapidly, New Zealand could see serious skills shortages within the labour market, unless the education system is able to provide the right training.

So, what are the essential skills that young people need to develop for the future of work, and how can education providers keep up-to-date with demand?

What are the future skills that New Zealanders will need?

According to The Future of Jobs Report 2018, automation is expected to lead to a 50% reduction in the full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today.

These changes are tied to the need for new skills, particularly what is referred to as human skills.

These future work skills include:

1. Problem Solving

Tomorrow’s workforce will be involved in solving a myriad of complex problems, such as poverty and climate change, with advanced problem solving skills being necessary. In fact, problem solving is expected to remain a core skill right through to 2022 compared to just one in 20 jobs that will require physical skills such as dexterity or strength.

2. Critical Thinking

Machine learning is helping us make data-driven decisions, but humans still need to exert their critical thinking skills to make decisions. Supplementary skills like communication, measuring and prediction (often referred to as process skills) all help people make better decisions. One in five future jobs are expected to require process skills, with 70% of employers worldwide already taking candidates’ critical thinking skills into account as part of the hiring process.

3. Creativity

Human creativity is something that machines will never be able to completely replace. Creativity allows employees to innovate and utilise technology to find new ways of working, contributing greatly to workplaces and overall economic growth.

4. Social Skills

Another human skill that will become increasingly important in the new world of work is social intelligence. Employees will need to mediate between humans and machines, as well as teach others technical skills. For example, as the medical industry continues to use technology for more and more tasks, the role of medical professionals will increasingly revolve around communicating with patients.

For more ideas on the areas that are worth upskilling in, check out the official skills shortage list for New Zealand.

Now that we know some of the skills needs of the future job market, how can education providers ensure they are keeping up with student and workforce demands?

What steps should providers take to provide the relevant skills?

The New Zealand government is already taking steps to ensure young people are appropriately skilled for the changing world of work. Education Minister Chris Hipkins has been championing the need for strengthened vocational education, to ensure New Zealand employers and school-leavers can mutually benefit each other. He notes that too many school leavers are moving straight into the workforce rather than pursuing further education, causing a skills shortage in the workforce. Instead, re-training and upskilling needs to become the new normal.

The recently announced Reform of Vocational Education should hopefully close the loop on some of these issues by:

  • Redefining the roles for education providers and industry bodies to extend their leadership roles
  • Bringing together existing Industry Training Providers as one entity, to create a robust regional network of accessible vocational education
  • Unifying the vocational education funding system

Education providers should work towards consolidating programs and courses and improving consistency.

Increasing online, distance and blended learning options will also help provide for the New Zealand workforce of the future.

The growing popularity of micro-credentials in New Zealand can also help to fill some of the skill shortages the nation is set to experience.

These small units allow students to quickly pick up the right skills needed for their industry, without taking time off work or having to complete an entire degree.

Education providers should therefore look towards increasing their offering of micro-credentials, which will allow established members of the workforce to develop new skills as well as their younger counterparts currently in the higher education system.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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