A New Zealand Herald Commercial Publication
Thursday, May 29, 2014
WOMEN AT THE WHEEL
WHY WE NEED MORE OF THEM
THE TRADE GAP WHY TRADIES ARE IN SHORT SUPPLY
INSIDE THE MIND LAB
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SKILLS & TRADE
WOMEN AT THE WHEEL THE TRADE GAP
CREATIVE CHALLENGE REINVENTING ENGINEERING
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A New Zealand Herald Commercial Publication EDITOR Greg Fleming WRITER Paul Charman DESIGNER Xanthe Williams COVER PIC of truck driver Amy Lockley by Ted Baghurst. The next ec2 supplement publishes July 24 2014 EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES please contact email@example.com ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES please contact Darrell Denney on 09 373 6020 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SKILLS & TRADE
As a driving shortage keeps trucks off the road the industry calls out for more women keen on the long haul. By Steve Hart
Amy Lockley has been driving big rigs for seventeen years and loves the freedom and adventure the road offers. Picture / Ted Baghurst
HUNDREDS OF LORRIES are parked up across the country as a shortage of HGV drivers keep them off the road. A problem, says the industry, that has been compounded by the government’s decision to strike the job from the skills shortage list. A shortage of drivers is not new. A 2003 report by Transport Engineering Research claimed the country was 1250 short of the drivers it needed. The report ‘Driver recruitment and retention’ was prepared for the Road Transport Forum and predicted there would be 10,000 unfilled driver vacancies by 2010. However, the figure is about the same today as when the report was written.
Helping to close the gap is the Women in Transportation campaign. It is marketing the career of a heavy goods driver to women, and giving the job an image makeover – to move it away from the stereotypical one of overweight men who look tough and eat pies. There are some professional female drivers though, among them is Amy Lockley. The 34-year-old has been behind the wheel half her life – the first half was spent sitting next to her truck driver dad. “School holidays and every weekend were great,” says Amy. “I knew I’d be with dad and my sister travelling everywhere. We couldn’t wait to go for a ride in the truck
with dad, it was pretty much the only time we got to see him because he was on the road so much.” Amy and twin sister Emma are both HGV drivers and work for their family’s firm, John Lockley Transport in Tauranga. “I was 17 when dad started letting me drive the truck to Wellington once a week, he was in the passenger seat,” says Amy. Days after turning 18 the sisters sat their heavy goods license and became truckers. Today, it can take years and thousands of dollars to get a class five license – but when they got their’s in 1997 the ‘test’ was almost a formality. “I got my truck license the year before
they changed all the rules,” says Amy. “Back then, if you had a full car license you could get a full truck license.” Amy works the night shift and spends most weekdays sleeping in her cab. She gets up at 5pm has breakfast and is on the road by 9pm. The day we spoke she was waiting to hitch up a trailer in Auckland and was heading to Wellington for a 6am delivery. “I love the freedom,” she says. “There is something new every day and I wouldn’t do anything else. I just want to carry on driving. For me it’s a stress-free job. When I’m in the cab I can just switch off and enjoy the road – when I hit the highway I get a real sense of freedom.” >
SKILLS & TRADE
Isolation, particularly on long runs can be a problem for some drivers, says Amy. “But I know so many people up and down the country that there is always someone to talk to on the phone or radio. I never really feel alone,” she says. The job can be a relationship killer though. Thankfully Amy’s partner is also a truck driver. “If he wasn’t in the same industry I’d never see him,” she says. Jackie Carroll, a director at Transliquid Logistics, a firm that delivers fuel to some of the nation’s petrol stations, says there is plenty of opportunity for women.
“When I’m in the cab I can just switch off and enjoy the road – when I hit the highway I get a real sense of freedom.” – Truck driver Amy Lockley “There are professional career opportunities for women in the industry as truck operators,” says Jackie. “It will bring more diversity to the industry and promote it as a career choice for women.” She says the vision of pie-eating male truck drivers is a common perception the Women in Transportation campaign is hoping to change. “That is the stereotype,” says Jackie. “And that comes from a lot of the industry’s old promotional material that gives the impression that this is a tough industry, that you have to be big and macho – you don’t. Drivers today have a better perception of themselves and are far more professional.” Jackie says the industry is diverse with
goods being transported covering everything from liquids to livestock, logs and food. Many transport firms are also family owned and operated, with a high contingent of owner-drivers.
“Each type of transport industry would attract different kinds of people – just because of the nature of the work,” she says. “We are pretty clean as we deliver fuel, but other drivers might find them-
selves in muddy logging operations out in the bush. “So some types of industry might be more appealing to a women, it’s not to say that they can’t work in certain environments – because they do – it all depends on the kind of work people want.” There is a high bar of entry for those wanting to drive some of the largest vehicles on the road. To apply for a class 5 license, drivers need to have a drivers’ license and then pass class 2, 3 and 4. The health and fitness of drivers also needs to be good. Training, medical, and testing fees can cost up to $10,000. According to Careers.govt.nz, the average wage for a heavy truck driver is between $16 and $25 an hour. “It can be costly,” says Jackie. “It used to be easier and cheaper to get the class 5 license, so for people leaving school and wanting a career in the transport industry it can be quite costly.” It’s something industry lobby group the Road Transport Forum is well aware of, and it’s starting to put pressure on politicians to relax the rules. Ken Shirley, CEO of the Road Transport Forum says driver training is both “expensive and long-winded”. He wonders if the driver training industry is making what was a very simple procedure overly complex and expensive. “We are speaking with the NZTA arguing for a simplification of the training system – but without compromising safety,” he says. “There are trucks parked up with no one to drive them, so we are looking at strategies to recruit and train people, improve staff retention, to broaden the scope of the sector and change the culture.” Steve Hart is a freelance reporter at www.SteveHart.co.nz
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SKILLS & TRADE
Trades trainers are struggling to keep up with demand as many parents want their child to have a safe office job or degree instead of taking up a trade and many school career’s advisors neglect the sector. By Lawrence Watt THE SUDDEN TURNAROUND of the building sector is the catalyst for the increased demand – amounting to a shortage of 5000 apprentices. The Christchurch earthquake and upswing in the Auckland sector have brought rapid change from decline to solid demand. Building consents have almost doubled since 2011, although still below the former peak of 2004. And with the multi-billion dollar programme of leaky homes trickling through, the need for builders is no flash in the pan. The Skills Organisation is an ITO that works with a huge variety of trades – anything from electronic manufacturing to real estate and offender management. Paul Hollings, head of specialist trades, estimates there will
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be an average increase of three per cent in jobs over the next five years in all the industries it works in. This should be good news for school leavers. Youth unemployment (age 15-19 years) is still high at 27.5% for April, up from 25.5% in the last quarter, Statistics NZ figures show. The change is happening rapidly – “The flip over has happened a bit faster than expected,” says Rumi Karaitiana, BCITO chief executive. The sudden need, mostly in building and related sectors, exacerbates various issues with the school system and industry training, which are a tad hung over from the recession. Parents are a major influence on their children’s attitudes towards work and career choice. – Social change has >
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SKILLS & TRADE
affected parental contact with schools and tertiary trainers. When Mr Karaitiana meets parents, it’s generally with the student’s mother, hardly ever the father. By a similar token, there is an increased parental concern with children getting wet and taking physical risk. Parents generally want their kids to have safe office jobs, after completing a degree. He finds some parents believe the Government stopped apprenticeship schemes and the only option for school-leavers is taking a degree or other fulltime qualification. Yet 70% of students do not end up at university. Career counsellor Angela McCarthy notices a similar trend – Dad is less likely than his father to concrete a path, or have a back shed full of tools to fix the car or lawnmower. “That was how teenagers traditionally gained an understanding of the trades and practical skills,” she says. Mr Karaitiana says careers advice at school is underfunded, particularly with smaller schools. Some schools have well set up booths, but for many, the advisors are the poor cousins. “They poke them away in a pre-fab out the back,” he says. Both Mr Karaitiana and employers believe the school system is failing to adequately prepare many students in maths, written English and basic science – and would like these three subjects to all be compulsory to year 12. He believes many kids take the easier subjects. “Young people are defaulting themselves through the school system and harvesting the easiest NCEA credits they can,” he says. He has noticed that when apprentices are in a practical situation where they need arithmetic or basic algebra; maths and physics suddenly become more interesting than at school. “It is amazing how they ‘get it’ in a practical environment,” he says. Bishman Electrical Contractors is based in South Auckland. Manager/ director Bill Penney says the firm is approached by 25-30
Jurica Jelavic, an apprentice electrician with Bishman Electrical, is one of six apprentices the company takes on each year. Picture / Ted Baghurst
“Dad is less likely than his father to concrete a path, or have a back shed full of tools to fix the car or lawnmower. “That was how teenagers traditionally gained an understanding of the trades and practical skills…” – Career counsellor Angela McCarthy
students a year and takes on six. Lack of Maths and Science skills actually means that some kids don’t make it. He feels schools are “trying to put everybody into university and IT,” but some of the smarter kids should consider a trade instead. “If they have a handson bent then they would enjoy it,” he says. All of the firm’s managers and directors are former apprentices. Angela McCarthy believes a crucial link to an apprenticeship or first job is to make it easier for 16 year olds to meet employers. She says the system generally expects those nearing the end of school to write their own CVs and directly approach employers. “Some
trades don’t do enough to help young folk knock on doors, get work experience, front up to employers. Shy young people, who could be extremely good mechanics or builders, can struggle with this, she says. Times have changed since the days when a teen could get their first job or apprenticeship from family contacts. “My brothers got apprenticeships through sports clubs,” she recalls. Schools’ Gateway programmes give senior students a chance to dip their toes in the water. They are well accepted by schools, employers and ITOs. People would like to see them further developed and expanded, as a bridge to help students begin a career path. Jacqui Brayshaw is Gateway co-ordinator at Otahuhu College. Jacqui has been working on Gateway for 11 years now and is grateful to the employers who have got involved. She recalls an employer, Viking Ironcraft, shutting their factory for a day while staff showed students how to make their own toolboxes. During the April holidays Jacqui was at work, managing students on a Gateway holiday programme, some at Eden Park. Students on Gateway are expected to turn up to work on time, put in a full day’s work and decide if an industry is right for them – or not. Roles on the scheme “are the whole gamut” including “a pilot, firemen, police, cabin crew and even aviation engineers.” Employers can get an idea of what students are like so that “there are no surprises,” and when a student works out something’s not for them, they are further down the path of finding what suits them, she says. “I remember one boy who had a go at building, but who ended up being a hair-dresser,” she says. Mr Hollings would like to see Gateway refined and extended. “I would review the length and structure of the school week: do students need to spend five days in class? Would they – New Zealand – be better served by spending a day with industry?” he asks.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE Degrees focused on training for careers in the creative sector are popular, but with hundreds of graduates coming into the job market each year, jobs in the industry are far from guaranteed. By Joanne Mathers
Linda Derby discovered a love of filmmaking after enrolling in Bachelor of Arts in Film and TV. Picture / Ted Baghurst
THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES have long been seen as a “glamour” sector. Working alongside artists, musicians, actors and other creative professionals has an understandable allure, but landing these coveted roles can be a real challenge. Tertiary degrees are often a prerequisite for work in this sector, so it’s important that those looking to work in this field make informed decisions about which course of study they decide to pursue. And students who wish to turn their degrees into rewarding careers need to find ways to stand out from the crowd, and to make the most of the opportunities the industry training offers them. Linda Derby is currently completing her master’s degree in directing and drama at the Media, Film and Television school at University of Auckland. The former graphic designer with a background in puppetry initially thought she wanted to teach media studies, so embarked on a Bachelor of Arts in Film and TV about five years ago. This focus changed during the course
“You have to work hard, and work for free, to get your foot in the door. Start at the bottom, try to build relationships, and contact a lot of people. If you’re good you will get noticed.” – Linda Derby
of her studies. “I discovered I had a real talent for writing,” she says. “And this discovery changed everything. It made me realise that I wanted a career in film.” Derby says that she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop her talent if she hadn’t undertaken this degree. “I’ve had amazing tutors and I can’t emphasize how much they have helped me with my craft.”
Another important component of the training that Derby received through University of Auckland’s Media, Film and Television programme was the opportunity to create contacts within the industry. During her honours year Derby got to work as a producer on other people’s film projects; this led to the creation of networks that have since proved invaluable. “Industry people come in to help with work on projects at the post-graduate level,” she says. “And making these connections is crucial to success in the film industry.” Derby has just completed filming of her master’s project, an 8-minute film called After Wonderland. She says that she hopes to work on her own feature film over the next few years, but will continue to work on an ad hoc basis in the industry during this time. “My brother works in the industry, and I work in the art department of his company. This has also helped me to create a good > network of industry professionals.”
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She says this versatility, as well as talent, a good network, and a proven track record of hard work, are key to success in the industry post graduation. “You have to work hard, and work for free, to get your foot in the door. Start at the bottom, try to build relationships, and contact a lot of people. If you’re good you will get noticed.” Technology plays an increasingly important role within the creative industries. Colab at AUT in Auckland offers students the opportunity to creatively engage with new and developing technologies. The undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in creative technologies are designed to encourage students to explore the intersection of art, technology, maths, engineering and other disciplines in a future-focussed, supportive environment. James Charlton is a senior lecturer at Colab. He says that the school’s multidisciplinary approach is unique. “We offer an education that is decompartmentalised; we acknowledge that different areas of knowledge aren’t discreet, that they overlap, especially in today’s world. You could design an iPhone app but not have a clue about visual language and it would look terrible and it wouldn’t sell. “But if you how programming works, how interaction works, how users work and understand visual languages that’s when the package starts to cross inform. Ideas don’t exist in a vacuum of disciplinarily.” Judit Klein (who is near the end of her master’s degree in creative technologies) says that Colab offers students the opportunity to extend their creativity; to train “for the careers that don’t exist yet”. She says that she liked the ambiguous nature of the degree, and the fact she didn’t have to settle on one specific field of study. “The degree is engineering meets computer science meets communications meets visual arts. The courses bring together practical studio based projects which are reinforced by theory, critical thinking and conceptual ideas.” A passionate Apple user, Klein’s master’s project is focussed on the creation of an iOS app. “When I was in 2nd year the iPad came out,” she says. “I went to a lecture with some Apple redistributors, who were talking about opportunities to be had in iOS development. I decided that is what I wanted to do.”
James Charlton (left) senior lecturer at AUT says the interdisciplinary, self-directed nature of the courses set up students for the contemporary work environment. Picture / Supplied Jacques Foottit is currently engaged in a Bachelor of Creative Technologies. He claims to have always oscillated between maths and science, and the desire to and “build stuff”. “I liked the fact that this degree drew these together.”
“The models of employment that we grew up with have changed. The graduates from these courses are self-starters, not going to want office jobs.” – James Charlton, senior lecturer at Colab, AUT His current project is a haptic feedback glove: “I am interested in human-machine interaction,” he says. “I’m also really keen to see where this goes in the field of medicine, rehabilitation. I’m actually doing an anatomy and physiology paper this year.” As well as technology and sciencefocussed students, Charlton says that the
creative technologies degree also attracts some fine arts practitioners. “Why should an artist’s materials exclude technology?” he asks. He says that the interdisciplinary, selfdirected nature of the courses set up students for the contemporary work environment. “The models of employment that we grew up with have changed. The graduates from these courses are self starters, not going to want office jobs. These are people who are going to start businesses to create possibilities for themselves. In the future we will need people who can speak across spaces.” Olivia Young is as a creative practitioner who’s created her own opportunities in a divergent work environment. A publicist/ marketing practioner, she works alongside local and international musicians and others involved in the creative arts. She studied art history, psychology, music and management at tertiary level, and feels that the idea of a clear “career path” is problematic. “I think [this idea] can limit an individual and put unrealistic expectations on what may happen. I have always chosen work that
I am passionate about or interested in, and used this knowledge as a stepping stone to working out the direction I take. Everyday this ‘path’ develops and you just need an open mind and good attitude to adapt to whatever opportunities come your way.” She says that it’s possible to create your own career in the creative industries, given the right attitude and effort. “Realising that I could have choice and control over my work made a huge difference. I worked really really long hours the first three years with some incredible people. They taught me a lot about great work ethic and how work can become a part of a lifestyle, rather than a mundane, tiresome activity you do each day.” She encourages graduates to try to be proactive when looking for work. “My advice would be to find a mentor, work harder and smarter always, volunteer at as many events as possible, email strangers for advice, connect with people who inspire you and wear bare feet more often! Never expect anything to be handed to you on a plate and help other people along the way.”
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REINVENTING ENGINEERING Auckland University’s Faculty of Engineering has taken a “pioneering step forward” in its approach to educating students. By Raewyn Court THE NEW PROGRAMME, ‘Systems Thinking’, is a practical, application led approach where students learn by doing. Professor Keith Robinson, director of systems engineering, says Systems Thinking is ground-breaking in that it provides, for the first time, a logical proven framework of principles which help to identify and solve problems, anticipate risks and implement innovative world class solutions. “Systems Thinking develops confidence and a big picture appreciation of what engineering is really all about,” he says. “It offers broader career choices and exposes latent talents for leadership and management. It helps our graduates begin to understand their true potential.” The new approach connects all the engineering disciplines together and combines them with finance, project management, business and advocacy, and it demonstrates the advantages of collaboration, working as a team and good leadership.
“Systems Thinking develops confidence and a big picture appreciation of what engineering is really all about. It offers broader career choices and exposes latent talents for leadership and management.” – Professor Keith Robinson Robinson explains that students participate in a series of lifelike scenarios designed to represent a ‘fast forward’ experience of working on complex systems and major projects. “They work in the ‘problem’ space as well as the ‘solution’ space and this introduces some uncertainty and risk into the scenarios and is more representative of the real world,” he says. “There are no right or wrong answers. As teaching staff, we are interested in the quality of our students’ thinking and the way they work together as a
team to achieve a professional result.” Scenarios escalate in complexity and challenge over the four years of the undergraduate programme. Each scenario is multidisciplined and covers all the conventional engineering disciplines as well as sustainability, health and safety, ethics and cultural diversity. “The aim is to provide a multidimensional challenge,” says Robinson. Scenarios have included ‘museums in a digital age’ at Part 1, designing an airport in Part 2, designing a theme park, and managing a movie in Part 3. Robinson says topics are chosen to engage students and to be relevant – for example, the 2011 launch scenario for Part 4 was “the Reconstruction of Christchurch”. “The ‘deliverables’ expected from each team are aimed at an executive audience and often take the form of recommendations and a business case,” says Robinson. “This is the way industry works and it’s vitally important our graduates feel comfortable with the ‘bigger’ picture and confident with complex systems and projects. We want our graduates to be able to lead and integrate as well as “engineer”.” In the ‘Auckland Harbour Bridge’ scenario, a cruise ship gets into difficulty and renders the bridge unsafe for all traffic. This “What if?” scenario was designed for final year students and brought together their experiences and skills from simpler scenarios undertaken in previous years. The scenario took place in a dedicated systems week where 550 students worked in 24 teams. “Students had to work out what to do, and what to advise the ‘Prime Minister’ at the end of the week,” says Robinson. “This approach condenses several years of project experience into a very short space … “a ‘fast forward’ on real life!” He notes that each team had a different but perfectly valid mix of solutions as a response to the challenge. Examples included working from home, staggered working hours, rationing critical road space to priority transport, new car pooling schemes, extended bus and ferry services, temporary wharfing and bridging, military support, and the use of office space as accommodation for weekly commutes. He
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Systems Thinking students had to participate in a series of lifelike scenarios including one where the Harbour Bridge becomes unsafe to take traffic. Picture / Greg Bowker says the student presentations were “amazing – mature, polished, professional, and it is clear that distinguished careers lie ahead of them.” Robinson says engineers are in high demand, regardless of discipline, but employers do set a premium on those who have a broader business view and can work well within a team, hit the ground running, think clearly, and express themselves well. “The ‘application led’ skills of Systems Thinking are attractive to employers as our graduates can integrate much faster into a business,” he says. “Through their project work they have a stronger work ethic and
recognise the virtues of working as a team. Our graduates include their systems scenario experiences on their CVs, and anecdotal evidence suggests that this makes a real difference in securing top jobs against tough competition.” “We need engineers to be working at all levels of an organisation,” he adds, “including at the highest managerial and board level where they can have real influence. That provides engineers with the opportunity to make vital contributions in shaping the future – responsibly, sustainably, ethically and professionally.”
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The digital revolution has changed education enormously. Dionne Christian visits a school which prides itself on its “future now” teaching I LOVED ROME, so it was an unexpected pleasure to once again visit the Italian capital without having to save for the airfare, spend 24 hours on a plane or worry about who was picking the kids up from school. I flew there the first time, but my second visit was courtesy of the Augmented Reality (AR) Suite at The Mind Lab in Newmarket. From this futuristic learning centre, I could soar across Rome’s historic sites thanks to the click of a couple of buttons. AR has been around for 25 or so years now, but I’ll wager for most of us it is part of the brave new world of emerging technolo-
“just because the kids can use a tablet, download music or play online games, it’s a mistake to assume they’re prepared and skilled enough to make the best of the opportunities technology offers.” – Chief executive Frances Valintine gies which we have yet to experience but will fundamentally – and further – alter the way we communicate, teach, share information and make connections. As they say at The Mind Lab, the only constant in this digital revolution is change and the need for us all, irrespective of the industries and sectors we’re in, to embrace lifelong learning and knowledge advancement to reflect and make the most of the world we live in. Opened seven months ago on Carlton Gore Rd in Newmarket, The Mind Lab is a col-
laboration between the specialist education outfit, led by chief executive Frances Valintine, and public education provider Unitec. This pioneering partnership recognises the future is now and aims to enhance “digital literacy” through teaching subjects like game development, robotics, augmented reality, 3D modeling and printing, film-making and animation, electronics and science predominantly to youngsters aged from four and – just as importantly – their teachers. As well as term-time courses and workshops to individuals and school groups, The Mind Lab runs holiday programmes, nightschool courses for adults and from July this year a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice teachers can specialise in digital and collaborative learning techniques. There’s a mix of full and part-time staff, including some former teachers and others who are specialists in their respective fields. The structure of courses allows participants to learn the tools and gain knowledge but also to experiment without worrying about failure or the need to accumulate a set number of credits toward qualifications. Without that pressure, learners are more likely to show a greater willingness to take risks and try new things out. Frances left a career in marketing to set up, with her mother, Liz, the Media Design School 16 years ago which was later sold to the world’s largest private university group, Laureate International Universities. The original aim was to allow mature graduates to upskill in new media, but the school quickly attracted the attention of young ‘digital creatives’ who wanted to make careers out of game development, animation and, more recently, app design. While many students had sound knowledge of programming and graphic design and strong creative streaks, Frances saw gaps in their knowledge around the inter-
Students Charlotte Baker (left) and Khadija Whyte make their own car in a recent electronics class. Picture / Ted Baghurst
play between science and technology not to mention some basic foundational skills. So she went in search of a new challenge and, after much research, started The Mind Lab. “We’re now 14 years into the 21st century but we’re still talking about what 21st teaching and learning should look like and using pen and paper based models from the 1950s,” she says. “Subjects are often taught in silos rather than being integrated and technology is frequently an add-on rather than an integral part of learning. “Science, technology, engineering and maths are the STEM subjects on which future industries and opportunities will be built. If our children want career success in the future, science and technology will be key skills and highly sought after capabilities, but if our children don’t get exposure to these subjects before they reach high school, it is likely these learners will not understand the potential or relevance and
opt for subjects with significantly less scope. “It’s human nature to take the easiest option but this has implications for our kids, who will miss out on all sorts of opportunities. Even more concerning is we – as a nation – will risk becoming a service economy, rather than a nation which pioneers innovation and high-tech solutions to real world challenges.” It also concerned her that in 15 years with the Media Design School, there were certain courses where not a single female student enrolled. “I think it’s vital that parents don’t make assumptions about what their kids will like. Fundamentally, many of the courses and the skills involved are about building fun stuff, inventing and programming creations to do things. Why shouldn’t girls like that? What’s more, these innovative and progressive areas will be the sectors where the top incomes and opportunities will be and
Students Diya (left) and Harleen getting to grips with technology at The Mind Lab.
we’re risking shutting our girls out of those.” The pace of change means it can be difficult to keep up even for so-called digital natives, the younger generation who are supposed to be fully convergent and comfortable with such innovations. But Frances cautions just because the kids can use a tablet, download music or play online games, it’s a mistake to assume they’re prepared and skilled enough to make the best of the opportunities technology offers. She argues one-touch or one-swipe devices and apps are having the opposite effect by simplifying technology at the same time as making it more difficult to appreciate the design thinking and the collaborative projectbased work which goes into modern creations. The Mind Lab’s subjects, philosophy and environment is designed to reflect modern
Picture / Ted Baghurst
Frances Valintine chief executive The Mind Lab. learning. Classrooms and laboratories are glass-walled meaning observers can get a good view of what’s happening and there’s a café from which parents can watch their kids.
There are bursts of colour and art on other walls but it’s nowhere near as cluttered as an ordinary school classroom. Low-tech merges effortlessly with the high; to get to the augmented reality suite, you step through a stylish-looking curtain made from 50,000 silver paperclips while students learn about electronics from building a drum kit out of cardboard boxes and broom handles and wiring it to a computer. Frances is determined that all children – irrespective of socio-economic background – should be able to access The Mind Lab and make use of what they learn in their daily lives. School groups are subsidised while classes look at ways to mix low and high tech. “It’s about making use of what you have around you and often initiative springs from that.”
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