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New tech-based professional development programme open for enrollment

According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the technological revolution is changing the world ten times as fast, at 300 times the scale and with 3,000 times the impact of the industrial revolution.

So, while it would have helped then to understand how electricity and steam-engines might change how the world works, it might be 10/300/3,000 times more important to know how technology is changing the world right now.

Enter Tech Futures Lab, a private-public partnership between Frances Valintine and Unitec.

Frances Valintine, also founder and chairperson of The Mind Lab, says that with the rapid advance and integration of technology across all sectors, it’s crucial that New Zealand businesses commit to skill development. “We are living in an environment where business disruption is transforming the world around us at an incredible rate, and entire industries are being forced to overhaul their business models in order to survive,” she says. “We are standing on the beach and the tidal wave is about to hit. No job, sector or industry is immune.”

Inspired by programmes such as Singularity University and the Harvard Business School, Tech Futures Lab is designed for professionals who are looking to improve (or just establish) their technical and business transformation skills, offering five full-time, 10-week immersion programmes – Cybersecurity, Robotics and Automation, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Big Data, and Business Innovation and Disruption – each of which is aligned with high growth sectors where skills are in global demand.

“If we’re moving ahead as a nation, we need a whole lot of digital companies with high-end digital skills,” she says. “There’s a lot of demand globally in some of these emerging fields in the technical space, but no-one here is providing an education for it. Unless you want to go and do a PhD or go start from the beginning, then there isn’t an option.”

Frances Valintine

Valintine says the courses are designed for people already in their career but are noticing the skills they have are “slightly redundant” and that they’ve “got people coming in around them who have got a more contemporary sense of the same space”.

Each course is full-time, 40 hours a week for ten weeks. “It’s basically equivalent to one year of university in ten weeks,” she says. “So it’s full on.”

“We recognise that for most business professionals and their employers, taking 2-3 years out for further education is simply not an option. Our programmes provide a year’s worth of higher-learning in a ten-week immersion programme. Candidates spend 40 hours per week learning, testing and applying relevant and specialist knowledge that can then be integrated back into the workplace.

“The programmes will fast-track the applied learning of some of the most sought after skill sets in the world right now, fostering an investment that has the potential to take New Zealand businesses into the future.”
Like similar programs overseas, Tech Futures Lab is not accredited by an official body (NZQA for example), but is endorsed by the industry it hopes to serve, in this case companies like ASB, Datacom, IAG, SkyCity, IMB, and so on.

Once completed, qualifications will be stored on the blockchain so they can easily and securely be authenticated.

Each intake is called a generation, so registration for Gen 1, beginning in September, is open now.

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