Building New Zealanders’ futures with a new way of learning

For the past decade, The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab have delivered innovative and practical postgraduate courses for Kiwis looking to boost their careers with new skills. This month, the two learning schools came together as faculties of new brand academyEX, as the education provider looks to help more professionals innovate for the future.

Under its new brand, academyEX founder Frances Valintine wants to reframe how further education is perceived in Aotearoa, and make learning and skills development more accessible.

“My goal has always been to make lifelong learning normalised, so that regardless of your age, you’re involved with some form of further study,” she says. “That’s not the reality in New Zealand at the moment, as we have one of the lowest participation in professional development in the OECD, and only five per cent of New Zealanders have a Masters degree. I’d like us to be like other markets , where there’s an expectation that you’re constantly involved with some form of professional development.”

academyEX founder Frances Valintine says studying brings confidence, empowerment and can change your world

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academyEX founder Frances Valintine says studying brings confidence, empowerment and can change your world

Further learning can benefit people at any stage of their lives. Periods of economic upheaval, such as the Covid-19 pandemic or recessions, are often a catalyst for people to review their career paths and upskill, Valintine says. While life events, such as the arrival of children, can also prompt New Zealanders to look at their career options and CV.

Valintine says upskilling can bring positive and lasting change, as well as improving one’s career prospects.

“The confidence that comes with studying can be so empowering,” she says. “We want learning to be accessible and mainstream. Upskilling and getting your brain firing can change your world in such a positive way.”

academyEX is New Zealand’s only private graduate school and focuses on; education, technology, leadership and sustainability. The Mind Lab and Tech Futures Lab will team up alongside new faculty Earth Futures Lab — which runs courses on sustainability and climate change — to offer programs to people from different professional and educational backgrounds across the globe.

The goal with further study is to keep New Zealanders ahead of the curve and create great leaders.

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The goal with further study is to keep New Zealanders ahead of the curve and create great leaders.

Valintine says the private graduate institute wants to redefine learning and higher education in New Zealand, and better prepare Kiwis for the challenges and opportunities of the future, such as climate change and the emergence of new technologies.

Earth Futures Lab is a core part of academyEX and was created to give professionals a broader knowledge and critical understanding of topics including sustainability, traceability, climate change, and natural resource protection, and apply them to different parts of the economy.

Earth Futures Lab’s courses range from impact investing to the future of food and water.

“The programs address some of the key priorities New Zealand is facing,” Valintine says. “We want to make sure that best practices in every industry are technology and data-informed, with the best possible outcomes.”

Courses at academyEX address some of the key priorities for New Zealanders including technology, leadership, business and the future of food and water.

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Courses at academyEX address some of the key priorities for New Zealanders including technology, leadership, business and the future of food and water.

Across its three faculties, academyEX offers a host of different study options, from free sampler courses to micro-credentials and master’s programs. There are 28 programs in total, with 14 of these programs, credit earning at a postgraduate level

The courses are delivered through academyEX’s online learning management system, an accessible platform for students to attend lessons, find resources, work collaboratively, or at their own pace. Some of academyEX’s longer programs also include offline learning aspects.

With courses in technology, leadership, education, business and sustainability, Valintine says academyEX can help New Zealanders prepare for the future of work and the changes that will define our economy in the next decade.

“We look at new technologies like AI, for example, and how we can embrace those tools,” she says. “Every sector will go through AI adoption, so how do we supplement the industry with technology? Rather than being fearful of change, how do we use those tools to help us?”

The goal is to keep New Zealanders ahead of the curve and best prepared for technological changes, whether they work in finance, agriculture, education, or other sectors, Valintine says.

“We want people to be at the forefront of testing and adopting new tools, not learning about stuff they heard about last year,” she adds.

Gaining further qualifications and knowledge can help leaders of the future across the New Zealand economy, Valintine says.

“The most important thing for a leader is the ability to be decisive, and problem solve. By having a strong understanding of changes, whether it’s sustainability or new technologies, and developing that knowledge, you can take a more proactive problem-solving approach. “

Alongside its formal education programs, academyEX also operates The Partners Lounge, providing white-labelled learning management systems, educational content and innovation workshops to partners in the private and public sectors.

Head to the academyEX website to find out more about our programs and register your interest in a course today.

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