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Kiwi tertiary education needs a 'wakeup call' for future innovators and entrepreneurs

By Sam Worthington, Wed 9 Nov 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Most Kiwi tertiary students finish exams this week, but the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey has proven SMEs have little faith in the system.

A total of 44% of small to medium businesses have said that they don’t believe the education system gives students the skills they need to work in their businesses.

Ingrid Cronin-Knight, head of SME for MYOB NZ, says these figures are hugely concerning.

“The education system needs to ensure that it is providing students with the skills they need to succeed in their chosen career. This survey should serve as a wakeup call,” says Cronin-Knight.

“Many businesses report they are facing skill shortages. Having people come through the education system that aren’t work ready only makes that situation worse,” she explains.

Cronin-Knight adds that it actually tightens the job market, with many students potentially struggling to secure a job in their first year out of study.  

When asked if the education system gives students the skills they need to be entrepreneurs and innovators, almost half of all businesses surveyed believed it fails to do so.

“This is disappointing. The students of today will be the innovators of tomorrow,” says Cronin-Knight.

“We need a strong education system that teaches students about the theory of business management, provides them with hands-on experience, as well as developing the critical faculties that drive innovation and entrepreneurialism.”

She explains that New Zealand is making real progress with the likes of Lightning Lab, Icehouse, the Ministry of Awesome and other entrepreneurial programmes at many of the country’s tertiary institutions.

“However, we need to look at the whole system to see if there is something more we could be doing.”

Cronin-Knight adds that MYOB works closely with various education institutions around the country to help the next generation of students develop the skills they need to be successful.

“We are involved with several activities through various tertiary institutions to help give students an understanding of the business world. This includes supporting the National IT Challenge, Brand Challenge marketing competition, running hackathons, graduate programmes and sponsoring several awards,” she says.

Several tertiary institutions around the country are also doing their part to enhance entrepreneurial opportunities for students. The University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship opened in February and is an innovative outlet. Centre Manager Michelle Panzer says it is focused on building students employability, innovation skills and entrepreneurship.

“Ever since the earthquakes, the University has looked to provide courses that ensure our students are ready to succeed in the business world,” she explains.

“Within the Centre for Entrepreneurship we now have an incubator programme to help students get their own business ideas off the ground,” adds Panzer.

“There are several opportunities out there for students who are looking to get extra experience in business.”

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