By Steve Smith
New Zealand and in particular the North, is facing a shortage of skilled recruitment prospects in pretty much all sectors. From residential building companies, to civil works contractors, health and wellbeing specialists, to teachers, food technologists to IT specialists, the collision between the need for educated (certified degree or diploma) and experienced potential hires is proving beyond the capability of our current system in terms of its ability to supply.
Let me clarify. A graduate entering employment (even in their chosen discipline), for their first job, is of comparatively lesser value compared to a candidate with practical experience. So how to choose between the two potential candidates?
The modern preference is of course for both, but this limits the number of candidates significantly. Some industry types and larger companies can carry their "inexperienced" but certified hire for months, whilst they learn the basics of their role, but for smaller organisations this is not usually possible.
The answer may lie in a much more granular approach to certification (especially diploma and degree based). For some individuals and industries, it may be preferable to attain a diploma, degree or MBA prior to entering employment (as they do today), but for many others, achievement of recognised certification may be better obtained as they grow in work, life experience and cash flow.
This is much closer to the more organic mechanism of our growth as human beings. The efficiency of this educational route planning, is much more flexible and would provide better support for both the individual and their employer, as outlay of funding for education would be more closely aligned to the functional needs of both entities.
A degree could be earned over as much as 10 years or more, resulting in far less stress on all parties. Of course, there are many examples today of individuals pursuing certification in a similar manner, but the time frames deemed normal or acceptable by the system causes many to fail and still more to never start. Let's look to change this.
Education should be a cornerstone experience set into the development of the members of our community, over the course of their lives, rather than the "cram system" we have today.
The integration of this philosophy alongside the conventional methodology of today, could lead to a very different citizen tomorrow.
• Steve Smith is chief executive of NorthChamber