Why study now? It’s not just to get a better job – although that definitely helps.
The real shift in recent years has been the pace at which new, industry-changing technologies are appearing. It can feel like there’s a new breakthrough every day. With greater demand for skills to be kept up-to-date, tertiary education is also evolving to meet that need, providing opportunities to continue learning and stay involved with education throughout your life.
“Lifelong learning is a practice which has long been built into professions like medicine or engineering, where the rate of advancement has always been frenetic,” says Merran Davis, Interim Chief Executive at Unitec. “The benefits are clear and can now be enjoyed by a whole range of industries.
For example, in New Zealand we have a building boom and with so many people jumping into construction, we now have a shortage in Construction Managers. Today you can cash in on the boom while also working to upskill and gain your Construction Manager qualification, increasing your earning potential and boosting employability in the long term.”
Among its vast variety of programmes, Unitec aligned its trades-training programmes with the industry’s call for more skilled workers by building a sophisticated trades-training facility. Unitec trades students have access to $8 million-worth of world-class equipment and simulators. Many go on to enter apprenticeships, or Unitec’s flexi study options allow them to work and upskill at the same time – a prerequisite for mature students who may already have a number of financial responsibilities.
The idea of apprenticeship may seem an old one, but it offers the on-the-job, skills-based learning that today’s fast-paced workforce requires. And choosing trades as a career path is often as financially secure as pursuing a degree. BERL, an Industry Training Federation think tank found that young apprentices at the start of their career were earning significantly more than graduates with bachelor degrees. At age 40, when they had reached the middle of their career the apprentices were actually more financially secure.
But why study now, especially for those who have trained before and are in employment? The reasons can seem obvious – a job that’s more aligned with personal interests, better pay, the chance to be a role model to family and friends, the ability to give back to the community and so on. But anyone who has undertaken any type of tertiary study knows the outcome of study is often much broader than being able to get the right job or improving a skill set.
In the broadest context, learning is a human trait that acts as a powerful evolutionary driver towards incredible innovation and progress, while in our everyday lives, learning is a way to open up opportunities and see where they might lead – as well as fulfil practical needs such as updating skills and professional development.
In the face of an uncertain job market, the Government’s pre-election 2017 report on the future of work highlighted the need for New Zealanders to embrace the concept of ‘learning for life’ in order to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us.
“As the concept of ‘lifelong learning’ continues to grow, tertiary institutes like Unitec are increasingly catering to those in full time work, who don’t want to take a year (or three) off to study,” says Merran Davis. “Supporting this is the rise in micro-credentials, or the ability to work gradually toward a major qualification, completing a paper or two each semester.”
Unitec is New Zealand’s largest institute of technology, with campuses in both Mt Albert and Waitākere. At Unitec, it’s about offering employment-focused education and the support to help students get involved in education, wherever they’re at in life.
If you’re ready to embrace life-long learning, get in touch with the team at Unitec.
Apply now, enrol.unitec.ac.nz