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Kiwis don't have to face growing tech skills shortage alone

06 Sep 2016

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller, says New Zealand isn’t alone when facing challenges of the growing tech skills shortage.

Muller has just returned from the Global Tech Leaders Dialogue summit that focused on the global shortage.

He says most countries are grappling with how to evolve their education systems to provide the right learning environments to teach digital technology skills.

“It appears that the countries having the most success are focusing not on teaching coding, but using things like coding to teach kids how to think critically, to problem solve, to work in teams, and project based learning,” says Muller.

“Israel is one country that stands out. They have embedded entrepreneurial thinking into the curricula from year one. Teaching kids how to experiment, to adapt to failure and try again," he explains.

"It is great news that Minister Hekia Parata and the Ministry of Education are looking to other systems such as Israel to borrow some of the best bits as we start to introduce digital technologies into the curricula,” he says.

Muller adds that the incremental introduction of ideas such as community online learning (COOL) should also be applauded.

“We should not see this as all kids sitting at home by themselves learning through a screen, but instead as a way to provide teachers with new tools to connect their students to the best expertise when needed,” he says.

“Gone are the days when bigger class size equates to less education. With clever application of technology, as long as we maintain a focus on the children and the pedagogy (the practice of teaching), we have an opportunity to not only do well, but to lead the world,” adds Muller.

To help ensure we are preparing Kiwi kids for the future of work, he believes this is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to evolve our world leading curricula.

Throughout the world teachers and educationalists are grappling with 21st century teaching and how to use technology to enable better learning outcomes.

Muller explains that in New Zealand, different schools have been experimenting with technology in different ways with some surprisingly positive outcomes.

It is NZTech’s understanding that the digital sector plays a key role in the growth of the country, which their Digital Nation report explores.

“The report also makes a compelling point that each four per cent productivity improvement in the tech sector is estimated to deliver an additional $2.7 billion in GDP. Technology is the third biggest export earner and the fastest growing industry in New Zealand,” says Muller.

“For a geographically isolated country like New Zealand, global connections are critical.”

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