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Vocational and Higher Learning

Project Aotearoa launched to support New Zealand’s workforce as part of COVID-19 recovery

20 Sep 2020

The education-led initiative, Project Aotearoa, has seen UP Education partner with Air New Zealand, Flight Centre and The Warehouse Group to support employees who have been made redundant, put on furlough or had their hours significantly reduced as part of Covid-19 workforce restructures.

Offering opportunities from UP Education’s vocational colleges with campuses across New Zealand, displaced Kiwis can undertake free education and retraining across industries like early childhood education, health and wellbeing, trades, technology, management, creative industries and beauty therapy.

UP Education Group CEO Mark Rushworth says a trial with Flight Centre earlier this year was a success, with free education and retraining offered to 1,200 of its people.

“Education will play a pivotal role in getting New Zealanders back to work and we’re deeply committed to supporting New Zealand as we navigate through the economic impacts of COVID-19, says Rushworth.

“Retraining employees whose work has been impacted due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 has been identified by the government as key area of focus, helping get people back into jobs and supporting economic recovery. This means ensuring education is accessible to people whose employment has been impacted.

“After all, the reality of a 35-year-old returning to study is very different to an 18-year-old school leaver. Many will have mortgages, young children, and financial responsibilities. That’s why we launched Project Aotearoa – ensuring education is accessible for people retrain and re-enter the workforce quickly.”

Flight Centre NZ Managing Director David Coombes says the partnership with UP Education earlier this year has been very positively received by its people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic hit us all hard and we had to make some really tough decisions with our workforce. We are committed to doing everything we can to assist our employees – past and present – to find new employment or secondary income opportunities through this incredibly difficult time.

“A key part of this is making sure our people have the skills and qualifications they need to find alternative employment opportunities, and our partnership is helping our people to do just that.”

UP Education group includes NZMA, Yoobee Colleges, New Zealand School of Tourism, New Zealand Tertiary College, The Culinary Collective, Elite School of Beauty and Spa, Cut Above Academy and Face and Beauty Academy.