Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Internet opens up new career paths

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OUTSIDE THE BOX: Otumoetai College acting head of pathways Stacey Shefferd says students are exploring new career options with several wanting to be full-time online bloggers.PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
OUTSIDE THE BOX: Otumoetai College acting head of pathways Stacey Shefferd says students are exploring new career options with several wanting to be full-time online bloggers.PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

Pursuing an apprenticeship or going to university are still popular career pathways for Bay students, but online roles such as being a YouTube blogger or social media commentator have emerged as new employment options.

A study by the NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) found that 46 per cent of current jobs are at "high risk" of disappearing in the next decade or two.

Most of the jobs predicted to disappear are relatively low-skilled and low-wage jobs, but some highly skilled jobs are also at risk - including 63 per cent of technicians and trades workers, 24 per cent of managers, and 16 per cent of professionals such as accountants.

Institute deputy director John Ballingall said people needed the skills to cope with multiple career changes.

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Otumoetai College acting head of career pathways Stacey Shefferd said it was not that jobs had "disappeared but new ones have come about, and who would have thought a social media analyst would be a full-time job?"

"We have a number of students that are very good bloggers and want to do that full-time, and that is a career option for them as some bloggers make a lot of money."

Mrs Shefferd said all schools had provision for careers within their staffing but "unfortunately some parents in the wider community aren't always aware that we exist", she said.

Its team had qualifications in careers advice and guidance, and could conduct personality testing if that was required to help students.

We have a number of students that are very good bloggers and want to do that full-time, and that is a career option for them as some bloggers make a lot of money.
Stacey Shefferd, Otumoetai College acting head of career pathways

"Sometimes the students don't know where their talent, skills and interests are. Often they are filled with 'there is a shortage in science, I'll do that' when in fact that is never going to work."

Some students needed evidence to explain which way they should head, she said, and "that is what personality testing can do".

On average, 40 per cent of the school's students went to university while 60 per cent took up apprenticeships, attended polytech or found full-time jobs.

The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industry was also huge and every school had a gateway programme to help students to gain work experience.

Double degrees were also becoming more popular as students became multi-skilled with transferable skills, although finance for this could be an issue.

Priority One's Instep programme also provided a valuable link between local secondary schools and business in the Bay.

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Manager Lyn Parlane said the programme harnessed the energy and expertise from local businesses to inspire students to make informed career choices.

"Projects and activities that focus on leadership, collaboration and innovation are developed so school communities understand future skill needs relevant to the region's economic growth and prosperity.

"Local businesses are confident that young people have the skills and aptitude employers need now and in the future."

Trips for students are arranged into local businesses, and business people come into schools to talk about what they do, she said.

"That provides a real-world context to the programmes of study that students are undertaking."

Key local sectors that Instep focuses on include horticulture, engineering, health and professional services, as well as innovative exporting businesses.

Residential building company Classic Builders had also just announced it was partnering with Tauranga Boys' College to help deliver a new industry-related programme for Year 13 students keen to embark on a career within the construction industry.

Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said the school had identified there was a gap between finishing education and entering the building industry.

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"We found our students were finishing school but finding it challenging to start careers in building, electrical, plumbing and so on.

"This new programme is not an apprenticeship but a pathway into the industry," Mr Mangan said.

Classic Builders co-director Matthew Lagerberg said the industry needed young people to join it.

"I want to encourage and positively influence the next generation of young tradespeople in the Bay of Plenty," he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's Jobs Online report for February 2016 revealed that over the year the Bay of Plenty had the biggest increase in job vacancies, up 14.2 per cent.

But nationally, vacancies decreased in six out of the eight occupation groups with community and personal services occupations down 1.9 per cent, followed by sales down 1.3 per cent. Over the year to February, job vacancies increased in all of the industry groups except IT.

The biggest increases in vacancies were in construction and engineering (up 10.8 per cent), followed by hospitality and tourism (up 7.1 per cent), while IT vacancies fell by 7 per cent.

The Ministry's short-term employment forecasts (2016 to 2019) expected strong employment growth in the construction and utility industries, hospitality, wholesale and retail trade, and business service industries.

Growth in demand for employment in highly skilled occupations for mostly managers and professionals would be higher than overall employment growth. It would account for more than 57 per cent of the overall employment growth over the next three years.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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