Time for a career pivot?

As the global pandemic sees New Zealand unemployment levels rise, is it time for a career rethink?

The fallout from the global pandemic has already seen tens of thousands of New Zealanders lose their jobs across all levels of organisations whether they be senior leaders, mid-tier management or at the coalface of a business.

And there’s likely to be more job losses to come. An ASB Economic Weekly report in late June says its economists think the big test for the New Zealand labour market will be the second half of the year, as the removal of the Government’s wage subsidy reveals some previously “hidden” unemployment. 

“Our read on the weekly NZ Jobseeker numbers is that they are equivalent to a near ‘real-time’ unemployment rate of a little over six percent. We have that rising to a peak of around eight percent by the end of the year,” the report says. 

And for many of those newly unemployed it may be the first time they have ever been without work or have dusted off their CV for many years. Some will take the opportunity to reassess their skills while others may look to launch themselves into whole new career paths.

Still others will be taking the opportunity to upskill and return to study in some form or another to launch that new career.

Capable NZ, an arm of Otago Polytechnic, recognises that many professionals have an immense amount of workplace knowledge and skill, but may not have the qualifications to match.

Its website says that its “world-leading assessment methods” value the prior learning of individuals who want to become qualified, and support the workplaces that employ them.

The organisation measures someone’s existing capability, gained through years of work and life experience, against an actual qualification “and give academic credit for what you already know”. 

Nikki Newton-Cross, business manager and facilitator for Capable NZ, tells Management that Capable NZ’s point of difference is that it is the only provider in New Zealand through NZQA which can take existing work experience, knowledge and skills into an academic qualification which means students can gain a degree in a much shorter period of time.

And she is a case in point herself.

Newton-Cross is a highly experienced marketing manager who worked in the retail sector for many years. In her late 40s she wondered if her lack of formal qualifications would hold her back if she was ever looking for a new role.

So she undertook the Bachelor of Applied Management through Capable NZ which, once her extensive experience was taken into account, took her 10 months to complete.

She says this type of learning is all about work experience, personal experience and knowledge and about adding to that with academic thinking.

And the process involves looking at your whole career path, analysing your skills and prior learning and then learning new theories and methodologies.

She completed the degree in 10 months while she had a full-time job and a family to care for. The qualification was completed using Independent Learning Pathways which is an assessment of your existing learning against a whole qualification using the academic benchmark of a Graduate Profile.

“Through critical reflection and self-assessment learners progress on a journey of learning and personal development.”

She estimates the degree took her about 20- hours a week over the 10-month period.

“What it gave me was the ability to think of the way I do things, and to be diverse in my management approach.”

She was employed in her senior management role in the retail sector while she undertook her degree but once the pandemic struck, she was made redundant and later her current role at Capable NZ arose.

 And she is delighted to be working somewhere which prepared her for her new role. 

“Your skills are so transferrable and a degree like this lets you realise that. Plus, with a renewed confidence in my own learning ability I’m expanding my knowledge further by undertaking a Master of Professional Practice related to my area of professional specialisation. Learning is continuous, and now I appreciate demonstrating that a NZQA qualification is not only obtainable but rewarding.”

She says potential students go through their work experience with a facilitator and once their knowledge is assessed Capable NZ looks into whether the depth of experience means the student could undertake a Bachelor Degree or whether a Diploma or Certificate qualification might be more suitable.

Capable NZ has a wide range of qualifications available including:

• Diploma in Business.

• Bachelor of Applied Management.

• Graduate Diploma of Professional Practice (Governance, Project Management, Sustainable Practice, Construction Management, Engineering Management).

• Master of Professional Practice (Sustainable Practice, Project Management, Construction Management, Engineering Management).  

While the qualifications are undertaken remotely, a facilitator is available at all times for students and throughout the qualifications there is the opportunity for onsite learning and meetings. 

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