Q&A: Thinking of retraining or upskilling? (Pt II)

Given the impacts of COVID-19, many people may be rethinking their current career path or need to upskill in their chosen field to match the current business climate.

But if you’ve been out in the workforce and away from study for a few years, or you’re completely new to tertiary study, where do you start?

We spoke with Jeni Fountain, Faculty Dean – Health, Education and Environment, from Chamber Sponsors Toi Ohomai to get some top tips for re-entering study.

This is a two-part series with our education partners. Please click here to view our Q&A with the University of Waikato. 

Given the impacts of COVID-19, many people will be rethinking their career path. How can they get started with Toi Ohomai and choose the best option for them and their future?

 We have a wide range of courses with our next intakes starting in June and July, so take a look at toiohomai.ac.nz or phone 0800 86 46 46 to discuss your options. We cater for all levels – from certificates, diplomas and degrees to postgraduate studies – equipping people with the knowledge and skills they need to work across the wide range of industries that drive our local economy.

If it’s been a long time since you last studied or you have absolutely no idea what to do next, you can start with a foundation course to develop study and computer skills and identify individual strengths and goals. See toiohomai.ac.nz/study/subject/bridging-and-foundation-skills.

Our passionate teaching staff can also meet prospective students to explain course requirements and industry expectations. You can even attend the course you’re interested in before you submit your enrolment application. Check out toiohomai.ac.nz/study/student-for-a-day-programme.

Our careers and employability team can help if you’re finding it difficult to choose between a couple of options or if you need some advice to decide what’s going to suit you, your family and your current circumstances. Email careers@toiohomai.ac.nz.

What are the key considerations someone should consider if they need to change direction or retrain?

It’s wise to consider your personal interests and goals, but also the current market for different roles and different industries and where future opportunities will most likely be.

It’s important to recognise the skills contained within each different qualification, and how and why those skills are useful to employers and in the workplace. We have a handy section on our website to point career starters and career changers in the right direction, including links to other useful websites. Visit toiohomai.ac.nz/services/career-information-and-advice.

Potential employers will no doubt appreciate your resourcefulness and commitment to use any unexpected spare time you might have to refresh or expand your qualifications, to better prepare you for different workplaces and opportunities.

What about upskilling – what courses do you offer that would be beneficial and have the ability to be studied in a way that works around someone’s current place of employment?

More than 120 of our courses – roughly half of all the courses we offer – can be studied part-time and we also have 25 online courses that cater for a range of subjects and levels.

A recent study by Ako Aotearoa identified ten key capabilities people need to prepare them for the challenges of the workplace. They are:

  • Positive attitude
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Self-management
  • Willingness to learn
  • Thinking skills (problem solving and decision making)
  • Resilience
  • Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Cultural competence

These are the lifelong skills you’ll develop while you study here – regardless of which course, level or career you decide to pursue – and they are transferable, which will give you the adaptability to move from one industry into another.

Do you offer any additional services or support that can help adult students?

Switching from a full-time worker to a full-time student will require some financial adjustments, so it’s worth making sure you can access everything you might be entitled to. There’s lots of information on our website or you can call our team on the 0800 number mentioned above – make sure you take a look at all the scholarships we offer too.

The government’s fees free policy is not just for school leavers. It’s available to anyone who has previously completed less than half a year of tertiary study and it covers the first year of a tertiary course or the first two years of industry training, or longer if you decide to study part-time. Visit feesfree.govt.nz

We’re also looking forward to getting more details, as they emerge, following the government’s recent Budget 2020 announcement. One of the initiatives will encourage people to enrol in specific course areas – such as construction, manufacturing, health or agriculture – and may see the fees fee policy being widened to support all students taking these type of courses.

Student loans and allowances are also available, check studylink.govt.nz

Student support is our top priority – we have dedicated facilitators who are always available to help with learning, engagement, ICT, disability and health issues, or to provide dedicated Māori and Pacific Island support. Our health centre also offers a wide range of free and subsidised healthcare services.

For students with young children, our Tauranga campus has a highly regarded on-site childcare centre featuring different areas which cater for children aged 6 months to 6 years.

If you need some space, our library offers quiet study spaces and rooms for group study and meetings. You can access computers and printers and connect your own device to the free Wi-Fi.

We understand that most Toi Ohomai students continued to study online during the COVID-19 lockdown and some have now resumed on-campus classes. What do you expect Semester 2, starting next month, will look like, given the ongoing effects of COVID-19?

We’re taking the new Level 2 health guidelines seriously, which means that we reopened our campus on 18 May only to the staff and students who really need to be here – all others are continuing to work and study from home.

This cautious approach supports our region as we gradually return to normality and we’re looking forward to starting semester two in a ‘business as usual’ capacity, with all of our usual campus courses up and running on-site.

Anything else you would like to add?

We know how important it is to adapt and stay relevant in a time of constant change – it’s why the catchphrase ‘lifelong learning’ has become so popular in recent years.

We have students aged from 15 to 79 and an impressive 92 per cent said they were satisfied with Toi Ohomai in our latest student survey. So we’re confident that you’ll have a great experience if you choose to study with us!

We’re also an obvious option if you want to ‘shop local’ in the wake of COVID-19. While all vocational education providers are expecting an upturn in domestic student enrolments as the job market takes a hit, enrolling at Toi Ohomai means you’ll be backing our 929 staff, which in turn will allow us to continue to support the communities we all live in.


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