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New Zealand Ministry of Education launches tech programme for teachers

The New Zealand Ministry of Education and a partner tech firm are taking teachers, the key influencers of students, inside tech companies to see various tech procedures and projects.

The programme not only aims to educate the teachers on technology, but also for them to pass on the newly acquired knowledge to their students who are inclined to digital means of learning during home quarantines and lockdowns brought by COVID-19. The event follows up from the tech developers programme for girls which has taken place in recent years, putting hundreds of schoolgirls into top tech teams in top IT and financial companies for a day.

For the tech developers, this is also an opportunity to showcase the tech world and for teachers to return to the classroom and lay a path for students to get more into the IT world after graduation. The event enables teachers to understand how to connect their local digital technology curriculum with real-world experience, and what is required to work in the tech ecosystem. This claim is further bolstered by the COVID-19 pandemic which hastened the shift from traditional ways of teaching to a mostly digital method.

The Digital Skills for our Digital Future survey that the tech company conducted, found declining levels of student interest in computer science subjects. Over the past five years, the number of students doing The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) technology standards has been decreasing by 2% a year. Contrarily, the tech sector is New Zealand’s fastest-growing sector creating thousands of new, well-paid jobs every year with a national median salary now close to NZ$ 100,000.\

OpenGov Asia reported on how the NZ domestic tech sector is facing a serious shortage of skilled staff in the face of this strong job growth that is generating thousands of new tech jobs. With the digital technology roles on the rise every year, the decline in local student participation is an issue.

For the Chief Executive of the tech company, most teachers in school have had no exposure to digital tech jobs making it hard to teach the digital technology curriculum amid the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also added that almost 80% of digital tech teachers in schools have never worked or experienced how tech is used in industry, so it is difficult for them to inspire and motivate students to follow a career in tech unless they know more about it.

Attendees will learn first-hand how tech is used today across industries and is part of most careers. Teachers who experience the programme will be able to talk to students about how important collaboration and other soft skills like communication are for tech roles and be able to give them real examples of what they have experienced. The programme will give teachers an insight into a practical application of computational thinking, how computer science principles are relevant in the real world and real-world development practices.

At the same time, educators will also see that there is so much more than just software programming in leading tech teams, opening opportunities for a wide range of students from creatives and people-centric students right through to data experts. As a result, the government and the tech developer are expecting to see more students considering careers in digital technology which will help improve the long-term flow of Kiwi talent into the tech sector.

The tech programme is being held in different cities in New Zealand such as Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Rotorua, Palmerston North and Tauranga. This is just one of several collaborative initiatives between the tech sector and the Ministry of Education to help provide opportunities for students to get prepared for a purely digital future.

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