With COVID-19 restrictions limiting excursions outside the classroom, Go with Tourism has developed a virtual reality experience to bring the world of hospitality and tourism directly to secondary schools around New Zealand.

Starting this term, the 10-minute 360-degree virtual reality experience will become a regular feature of the Go with Tourism Education Programme.

Students are given a taste of a career in tourism and hospitality through the eyes of an undercover agent who is on a mission to prevent a catastrophic event.

The headset wearer is thrown out of a plane and off a bridge, taken into a busy commercial kitchen, surrounded by a powerful haka performance group and more.

Go with Tourism programme director, Matt Stenton, says that one solution to filling future gaps in the workforce is by engaging our rangitahi today. “We are at risk of not having enough talent for our industry when we recover. If we don’t feed the funnel at the secondary school level, we may find ourselves in a worse position than prior to COVID-19.”

Pre-COVID-19, New Zealand was heavily reliant on migrant workers to fill skill shortages in the Tourism industry and an estimated 40,000 new workers were needed nationwide by 2025.

Tourism and Hospitality private training establishments (PTEs) have also seen a decline in student numbers. This follows funding cuts in 2020 by the Tertiary Education Commission (up to 40% at some PTEs) and heightened negativity about Tourism and Hospitality work, as a result of COVID-19.

“Our research from 2018 already told us that New Zealand youth are dissuaded from entering the Tourism and Hospitality industry by those they go to for career advice. Now, everyone is saying Tourism is decimated – media, teachers, friends and family,” says Stenton. “We aim to challenge this line of thinking by communicating with students and their teachers directly through our Education Programme and expos.

“We bust myths, introduce students to a hugely diverse workforce and are now entertaining them through this amazing new technology, which has already received an overwhelmingly positive response from the schools we’re in contact with.”

The Go with Tourism Education Programme was developed in 2020, in response to the stigma that surrounds Tourism and Hospitality jobs and the knowledge that these perceptions begin to develop in our teenage years.

Go with Tourism Regional Coordinators deliver specially curated lessons to better inform students about the multiple career pathways available in Tourism and Hospitality. Teachers can book a session for their school, or find out more information by reaching out to the team at kiaora@gowithtourism.co.nz

A mobile-friendly version of the 360-degree virtual reality experience is available on YouTube.

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