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Update from ITPNZ

Paul Matthews. 04 October 2019, 3:29 pm
Update from ITPNZ

Here's a quick weekly update from ITP CEO Paul Matthews

So ITx Rutherford 2019 is almost here! Next week in fact. But it's not too late to go, and I've outlined 5 things to think about it you're still a little on the fence. I really hope to see you there.

Also, I engaged this week with Education Minister Chris Hipkins, Secretary for Education Iona Holsted and a group of others on the transition from education to employment and especially in relation to the big shakeup of the education sector currently happening. We're working with CITRENZ and others to provide concrete solutions for our sector - a main focus of the education stream of ITx Rutherford. 

5 things to think about with ITx Rutherford 2019 

Have you been on the fence about attending ITx Rutherford next week? Understandable if so - there is a cost both in terms of getting there and attending, but also the time out from work, and sometimes it's hard to justify this. 

But I just wanted to share 5 things about this event from my perspective:

  1. We've assembled an incredible line-up of keynotes and speakers, covering all sorts of topics from cybersecurity and AI, through to mental wellness. Our session speakers cover a massive range of topics. The idea is you don't just attend sessions about things you already know about - you get a taste of a huge range of topics and come away with a much greater appreciation of what's happening outside your immediate day-to-day "bubble".
  2. Hundreds of tech professionals are descending on Nelson next week to share experiences, network and learn (and of course, have fun!). The best thing about ITx conferences is the people, and this is no different with ITx Rutherford. You'll learn as much from other delegates as you will in the sessions.
  3. This is a "non-technical" technology conference. The focus is on growing you professionally, not technically. It does mean at first glance some topics may not seem applicable to what you do day-to-day, but trust me - it is. Your technical role is only part of what you do. And if you're serious about developing your career, the non-technical stuff is as, if not more, important.
  4. It's not only about learning, although that is a key part of why you should be there. ITx Rutherford is also about networking and meeting others in the sector. With various events and heaps of time to catch up with people you know and meet plenty of others, you'll make new connections you'll have for life.
  5. Many people don't realise this, but we don't make money from our conferences. We're running ITx Rutherford 2019 to help develop professionals so those coming along can get an understanding of what's happening across the board in their sector, which inevitable leads to being better at what you do. Our sponsors make a huge difference, but also the fee you pay doesn't go into someone's pocket like most other conferences; it goes into making the event awesome.

ITx Rutherford is next week, but it's not too late to come. Better yet, stay the weekend in gorgeous Nelson.

We have brilliant speakers and awesome sponsors and hundreds of really smart people coming. I hope to see you amongst them next week!

Find out more or register here :)


Pathways to Tech Employment through Education 

This week I was invited to attend the Education to Employment Matters forum with education Minister Chris Hipkins, Secretary of Education Iona Holsted and a small group of employers and Ministry of Education officials looking at how to ease the transition from education to employment in NZ.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the outcomes of the fairly huge shakeup of the education system, via the Review of Vocational Education (RoVE) dominated discussion and was the core focus of the minister.

For those who don't know, under this review the country's 16 polytechnics are due to merge into a single entity, take responsibility for workplace-based learning from ITOs (which are being disestablished), new Workforce Development Councils are being established to provide direction from the industries and professions, and the funding mechanisms are being changed substantially as well. 

The group covers all areas of education not just ICT, but it was good to see recognition from Minister Hipkins of the unique nature of ICT education and the fact that this might need a slightly different approach, albeit within the broad framework of RoVE.

The two key areas we see that are different from others are:

  • The strong focus on ICT degrees within the polytechnic sector. A third of NZ degree graduates in tech-related areas come through an Institute of Technology or Polytechnic and for most institutions, this is a greater focus than Diplomas.

    In most other non-ICT subject areas, there are far more Diploma graduates than Degree graduates. In practice Degrees and Diplomas are taught together, so changes in the sub-degree space (which is where the review focuses) will have a significantly larger impact on degree provision than other subjects, at a time where we're still experiencing a majorshortage.
  • ICT has never had an ITO. This is for good reason - the ITO model has never suited our industry, because the complexity of learning for ICT-related topics means that qualifications are generally at a higher level than those traditionally covered by ITOs (see point 1). But this does mean that an ITO from a different area transitioning to a Workforce Development Council and taking responsibility for ICT would be a disaster for tech education.

Interestingly, the new changes potentially open a huge opportunity for more workplace-based learning in the tech sector and that's something we're actively pursuing. The old ITO model never worked for tech, but hopefully this new model will - if the right decisions are made now.

There's also some great crossover between this work (in a more general sense) and the work of the Digital Skills Forum (specific to digital/ICT) and it's good to bring the two closer together.

We're continuing to engage directly with the Tertiary Education Commission and Ministry of Education around the review, to help ensure the final outcome is one that works well for the tech profession and industry; and as importantly, the students who go through the system and the educators who give them the best possible starting point.

It's great to see the level of engagement from the Minister and we're looking forward to contributing with some concrete solutions over the coming months.


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