Apprenticeships vital to automated future

Apprenticeships vital to automated future

Now, more than ever before, it’s vital that school leavers choose a pathway that equips them to learn new skills for jobs that don’t yet exist in an automated future. 

And despite what many people think, automation is not a jobs killer – it’s creating new jobs and opportunity, says Competenz chief executive Fiona Kingsford.

“Human jobs won’t disappear, they will change. The World Economic Forum predicts 75 million jobs will be lost in the next four years as companies automate, but at the same time, 133 million jobs will be created.

“As parents and teachers, we are natural guides for our young people. But we need to accept the world of employment is undergoing a massive shift, and it’s happening right now. Our children must be equipped with the skills they need to meet change, and to find relevant, rewarding and adaptable jobs.”

Outmoded thinking of what workplace learning and apprenticeships can deliver is an ongoing battle for Competenz, New Zealand’s industry training organisation for manufacturing and engineering. Modern food and beverage manufacturing plants, engineering workshops and other trades-based workplaces demand a high level of technical skill.

 Mechanical engineering apprentices are using artificial intelligence and robotics to facilitate the automation of a growing number of “doing”’ tasks. Today’s AI-enabled, information-rich tools are increasingly able to handle jobs that in the past have been exclusively done by people.

“These shifts will produce massive disruptions to employment and, if we are going to meet this disruption and prosper from it, we need to address it now by helping our children choose the right learning pathway,” Kingsford says.

The people needed for those 133 million new jobs will be responsible for gleaning insight and intelligence from the machines, fixing and maintaining them as well as quality assurance, among other things.

“Various organisations have identified the top soft skills that will be an absolute given in 2020 – skills our young people will need to thrive. These are collaboration, empathy, complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and people management. In our opinion, the best place to learn these skills is on-the-job.”

As an industry training organisation, the businesses Competenz works with employ more than 20,000 people completing apprenticeships or on-the-job training. They are committing to the future by growing their workforce’s competencies or work-related skills for a world of lifelong learning, rather than the “three or four years and you’re done” university system. These businesses are future-proofing their people, right now.

“We have to collaborate and help our children develop the range of skills they will need to succeed in this brave new world of work,” Kingsford says. “Although disruptive, these shifts are exciting and are opening new pathways for our young people. We think their life-long learning begins now, on-the-job, for the best head start for their careers.”

Talk to Competenz at SouthMACH 2019

 Talk to the Competenz team about apprenticeships and on-the-job training at SouthMACH Stand 54 in the Employment and Training Hub.

Looking for your next apprentice or entry-level employee? Meet jobseekers at SouthMACH via the Competenz SpeedMeet, a quick-fire series of job interviews with local high school students who are ready and willing to start a career in engineering or manufacturing. Register for SpeedMeet via the Employment and Training Hub page at or email


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