Global work-based learning review: New Zealand & Israel

The third article in our series reviewing work-based learning around the world looks at two very different countries experiencing very similar issues.


In New Zealand, nearly half of employers are facing an ongoing talent shortage, according to the ManpowerGroup 2018 Talent Shortage Survey.  

Forty four per cent report they can’t find the skills they need to fill vacant roles and 64 per cent are now recruiting outside their talent pools in response to this widening skills gap. Hiring workers from overseas helps to fill short and long-term skills gaps. Roles in construction, engineering, health and social services, hospitality and trades feature on the government’s current long and short term skills shortage lists.

The government is reforming vocational education, including a proposed merger of the country's 16 polytechnics into one new single entity, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology. “At a time when we’re facing critical skill shortages, too many of our polytechnics and institutes of technology are going broke,” said Education Minister Chris Hipkins. “Our proposals aim to ensure that the system is easier to navigate and provides the skills that employers and employees need.”

Companies in New Zealand are developing their own work-based learning programmes, as well as using established schemes. At Z Energy, New Zealand’s largest fuel distributor, a core work-based learning programme is its Innovation Masterclass. This focuses on ‘human-centred design’ – creative problem-solving based on customer needs and perspectives. 

“The Innovation Masterclass is a three-day workshop that’s available to all Z employees and focuses on building creative confidence, teaching human-centred design tools and methods, and aligning this approach with our business objectives,” explains Laura Fayerman, Senior Innovation Manager at Z Energy.

“At each Masterclass, we bring together 24 people from across the business to tackle a real Z customer problem, and participants leave with a new set of tools, templates and method cards to begin working differently." Method cards are quick reference cards that briefly describe a creative method on each.

Almost 140 participants over six sessions have benefited both professionally and personally from the Masterclasses, Fayerman says, including improved confidence and decision-making. Investing in people development has also brought business benefits including better staff engagement. “The organisation is experiencing a range of benefits from how our people are problem solving and thinking creatively, through to a greater customer focus and cross-functional team collaboration,” Fayerman adds.

“Innovation one of the focus areas to help Z Energy navigate an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. We are building an organisation that is customer-focused, delivering on customer needs, and able to pivot effectively at pace. The Innovation Masterclass is one vehicle are using to support this approach. For us, work-based learning is about encouraging our people to leverage their innovation techniques to better understand our customers and meet their ever changing needs.”


In Israel, strong economic growth and the challenges of integrating more disadvantaged Israelis[1] into the labour market have compounded skills shortages in many sectors.  

The country’s tech sector, which employs around 270,000 people and is a key driver of economic growth, is particularly under pressure, with a recent report finding 15,000 skilled posts unfilled, mainly software engineers and data scientists. “If Israel is to meet the demand for skills and to support its economic growth, it can either increase external migration and/or use its education and training system more effectively,” the OECD said in its 2018 report, Apprenticeship and Vocational Education and Training in Israel.

A relatively large share of adults in Israel has low basic skills, particularly among Arab Israelis and Haredi Jews, the OECD noted, adding that addressing basic skills weaknesses in these populations should be a priority. The report also argues for the development of apprenticeship programmes and work-based learning placements. About 1.7m Arabs live in Israel, representing 21% of the country’s total population But around 52% of Arab-Israelis live below the poverty line, compared to just 14% of Jewish-Israelis,[2] according to employment services provider JDC-Tevet.

The Jerusalem-based company specialises in helping minority populations enter the workforce through a range of programmes including Imtiaz, Arabic for “excellence”. This programme helps young Israeli Arab students and graduates continue their studies or find employment. Since launching in 2014 with 67 participants, Imtiaz has expanded to 15 venues and served more than 4,600 students and graduates. More than 70% of its participants are women.

JDC-Tevet also runs the Starter programme. This was launched in 2016 to help unemployed, under-employed and unskilled adults successfully transition into professional employment using apprenticeship training.

CASE STUDY: Zaynab's Story

After graduating from Yezreel Valley College in Northern Israel with a degree in health system management, Zaynab received counselling through Imtiaz to help her integrate successfully into the workforce. “I underwent an intake session with the Imtiaz coordinator at the center, Rim Abu Hadra, and we mapped out a plan of action adapted to my needs,” Zaynab says. “At the second session I took an aptitude test to diagnose my employment preferences and skills and I was then placed in a career planning workshop.

“I applied for a career change track to nursing and was invited for an interview at the Hillel Yaffe hospital in the town of Hadera. Thanks to the tools I acquired in the workshop, I made a good impression and aced the interview, and will soon be starting an undergraduate nursing program.”

CASE STUDY: Ghazallah’s story

Ghazallah Hir Atalla, 27, is married, has one child and lives in the Galilee Druze village of Yarka. She joined Starter after graduating with a certificate as a practical industry and management engineer and being unable to find work due to lack of experience. Unable to find a job in her field of study, she decided to change direction and acquire a degree in education that would ensure her work as a teacher.

However, at the start of her second year of studies, Ghazallah heard about a training program in robotics and automation through a notice she received from the Ort Braude College of Engineering. Ghazallah signed up, studied at the college and began her apprenticeship in the Production Planning and Control Department of Colibri, a plant specializing in coolant-driven jet spindles for CNC machines.

Three months after starting her apprenticeship at Colibri, she was promoted to the job of running the plant’s PP&C department.

A snapshot of SodaStream at work

Israelis, Palestinians and Bedouins work side by side at SodaStream’s main manufacturing facility in Lehavim, southern Israel, which is known as the “Island of Peace.”

The company, led by chief executive Daniel Birnbaum, uses a data-based talent management system to assess, retain and train staff, as well as identify skills gaps. “The performance management process is the basis for the ‘recognition’ process of our people,” Ronit Sarig, Director of Corporate Human Resources and Global Organizational Development in SodaStream.

“It is also the basis of our training program, which is aimed to close gaps and to round out skills and competencies that are required for each person, as well as for the organization. It is here that ‘talents’ – overachievers – are identified and career and succession plans are prepared for them. The recognition processes are based on the individual's performance and include compensation, training, role enrichment, mobility options and promotion.”




[1] Developing Work-based learning in Israel, OECD, 2018, p30

[2] JDC Israel Tevet – Arab Society

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