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Reskill, Retrain and New Hope

A new initiative by University of Canterbury offers new hope to those facing a COVID-19 career crisis.


As a small country, privately owned businesses have long been the lifeblood of the economy, employing millions of New Zealanders.


Those businesses and their staff were hit hard when the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores. 


A series of drastic measures were rolled out in an effort to ‘flatten the curve’ and eliminate the virus.  Kiwis shut their businesses, stayed home and we’ve saved lives. 


But saving lives hasn’t come without a cost.


Hundreds of thousands of businesses employing millions of New Zealanders now face an uncertain future as we navigate the path ahead.


Moving to Alert Level 2 and beyond will see restrictions eased but it is clear the change in how we go about our daily lives and do business will be significant.  Many businesses face tough decisions in the coming weeks and months, particularly around employment.


“We are very conscious of the huge impact COVID-19 is having on people’s livelihoods and careers,” says Professor Paul Ballantine, who heads the University of Canterbury Business School.


“We are here to help and strongly encourage affected businesses and employees to explore what’s on offer.”


People facing redundancy, suspension or significant reductions in work hours as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19 can now upskill or change careers with the help of a University of Canterbury Study Grant.


The scheme, called FutureU, offers grants of $7500 to businesses and employees affected by COVID-19.  Those who have lost their job or have had hours of work severely reduced (40 per cent or more) due to the outbreak are eligible for consideration.


ANZ General Manager Troy Sutherland says the FutureU scheme will be welcomed by businesses working hard to support valued staff through the crisis.


“Staff are often like family to these businesses and those relationships are very strong.  But the impact of COVID-19 is forcing them to make some really tough decisions.


“Opportunities to upskill or retrain people to help secure future employment in the face of such uncertainty are really valuable.


“The number one thing all our customers are having to do right now is look beyond the immediate challenges resulting from the lockdown and plan ahead,” Mr Sutherland says.


“No-one was prepared for the rapid and unexpected disruption COVID-19 caused and few will have a plan that is fit for purpose in a post-COVID-19 world.


“Only by exploring all the options and opportunities available now and in the coming months, can business-owners choose the best actions to take for them and their staff.”


For FutureU study options and fees and information on the nomination process, go to: www.canterbury.ac.nz/futureu

Image credit: University of Canterbury