International potential in polytech programme

Andy Kilsby.
Andy Kilsby.
Andy Kilsby is just off a 32-hour flight from Denmark, so he is a bit bleary-eyed.

That does not detract from his focus when he talks about the future productivity potential of "micro-credentials'' across corporate New Zealand and globally.

As director of employability at Otago Polytechnic for the past year, his remit is to provide credentials-based learning and skills solutions for organisations seeking to upskill their employees.

As such he is one of the drivers of the polytechnic's successful EduBits programme, which, after a year-long pilot, now offers 120 "small qualifications'', everything from beekeeping and cheesemaking to health and beauty.

To date more than 1000 individuals and organisations have undergone the assessments, which have recently been accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Mr Kilsby said once organisations understood the benefits, they were quick to recognise the opportunity for their staff.

"We've established a number of partnerships across major organisations, who see it as an opportunity to embed value into workplace education.

"We've seen research that shows that as little as 10% of corporate learning results in any sort of skills transfer, so the aim of the EduBits programme is to teach and then see people actually doing it.''

He said the programme also aligned well with the polytechnic's "I am capable'' programme, which focused more on "soft skills''.

Mr Kilsby denied that the programme was under threat with the integration of the sector under the New Zealand Institute of Science and Technology (NZIST).

That was despite a recent report by Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker to the polytechnic council that it was "unlikely that points of difference of this nature will be permitted in the new world''.

However, polytechnic chief operating officer Philip Cullen said the programme was one of the polytechnic's most "innovative ventures'' and it had much potential to be enhanced.

He said the view was that the polytechnic could lead further development of this micro-credentialing programme within a reformed NZIST model.

"We are absolutely 'all in' on this programme and had committed to developing it further on an international scale,'' Mr Kilsby added.

"As with any start-up, the programme will certainly evolve as we work out what works and what doesn't and where the opportunities lie.''

One opportunity was on the international stage, he said.

"We are working with a number of international businesses as well as the Humber College in Toronto and VIA International in Denmark who see tremendous value in the programme.

"These organisations have the same issues as New Zealand, in terms of hanging on to skilled people.''

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