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AcademyEX celebrates diversity in landmark New Zealand graduation
Mon, 25th Mar 2024

Higher education institute academyEX, previously known as The Mind Lab, has celebrated the graduation of approximately 100 postgraduate and Masters students. This diverse group comprises individuals who are mainly over 45, women, Maori and Pasifika communities and recent immigrants to New Zealand. The newly crowned graduates have delved into topics including driving positive change, collaborative learning, contemporary education, and shaping technological futures.

The graduation booklet offered words of encouragement to the newly minted graduates: "Today, you step into the future, defined by what you have learnt, discovered, questioned and created. No one can take away all you have gained or limit your potential." The cohort's success is seen as an emblem of a wider, positive shift in attitudes towards ongoing learning within local businesses.

Simona Turin, CEO of academyEX, emphasised that "Education is no longer a commodity, but a necessity." He noted that while post-Covid hesitancy surrounded the cost of upskilling, the accelerating pace of business disruption now compels businesses to respond swiftly and fluidly to evolving contexts. To compete internationally, companies must surpass, not merely match, the knowledge of their competitors.

While organisations recognise the importance of learning for compliance and issues such as staff attraction and retention, Turin cautioned, "If you're not investing in the upskilling and development of your people, they'll go elsewhere."

Despite an increasing tendency towards online learning, academyEX argues that this alone is insufficient. Instead, academyEX promotes a blend of learning models, focusing on connectivity. Speaking to this, Turin explains, "We refer to our learning environments as a community of changemakers and industry shakers. Our learners often tell us that the real value of their course is the opportunity for engaging and stimulating conversations about issues that matter deeply to them and their communities."

The effectiveness of this approach is borne out in an impressive 85% course completion rate, with a diverse set of learners, including those typically challenged by conventional learning models.

AcademyEX demonstrates the viability of its educational model through successful collaborations with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on the Digital Boost programme and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) on the Digital Passport. Both initiatives aim to help individuals and businesses adapt to the evolving digital landscape.

Digital Boost, launched in January 2021, offers a suite of more than 1,000 learning resources, boasting a membership of nearly 58,000. Similarly, the Digital Passport has enrolled over 4,200 New Zealanders in modules aimed at building digital literacy and job-essential skills, culminating in more than 40,000 sessions.

At the conclusion of the successful celebrations, Turin expressed his excitement about academyEX's role in enhancing lifelong learning in New Zealand. "We're 100 students closer to a workforce that can lead, not just respond to, large-scale disruption and we congratulate every one of them on their significant achievement,” he concluded.