Exploring the Future of Work: A gateway to future possibilities at Tauranga’s Canvas Careers Expo 

The annual Canvas Careers Expo, held on August 10th and 11th at the Mercury Baypark Arena, once again proved to be the Western Bay of Plenty’s premier event for the 4000 students, adults, and professionals in attendance looking to navigate their training, education, and career paths. Organised collaboratively by Priority One and Rotary Club of Tauranga, this year’s expo brought together a dynamic blend of eighty employers, training providers, and industry leaders to showcase the diverse opportunities available in the region’s evolving job landscape. 

Spanning two days, the expo was a bustling hub of knowledge-sharing, networking, and inspiration. Among its highlights were the engaging evening sessions presented under the banner “Behind the Scenes for Generation Next!” This series, hosted by Pip Loader in collaboration with the Instep Young Leaders, aimed to dispel misconceptions about technology, innovation, infrastructure, and sustainability. 

In the first session, “Green is the New Black,” experts from Special Studio, Velzyland, and Waste Wizards took the stage to discuss their career journeys and the imperative need of adopting circular waste management practices. The second session, “Real Life Roblox,” brought together thought leaders from Beca, Wingates, Tauranga City Council, and Aurecon to challenge conventional notions of infrastructure, urging attendees to envision it as more than just roads and buildings. Finally, “The Robots are Everywhere!” featured voices from Bluelab, Datacom, Robotics Plus, and BES, encouraging participants to embrace innovation and recognise technology’s ubiquitous presence across industries. 

Vee de Koster, Instep Manager for Priority One, remarked, “This year’s expo is a great example of the hugh expansion our region is experiencing. While showcasing the existing array of career pathways, it also beckoned attention to the numerous untapped prospects awaiting the next generation. The future of work isn’t just a concept—it’s an unfolding canvas, eagerly awaiting the unique strokes and vision of our upcoming workforce.” 

Beyond the informative evening sessions, the expo’s impact was magnified by the valuable data received from 385 student surveys conducted throughout the event. The survey data provided a unique glimpse into the minds of young individuals and their perceptions of the region as a place to study and work. 

The short survey was designed to elicit their perspectives on future work opportunities, their expectations, aspirations, and awareness. Preliminary analysis of the survey data has revealed several key trends and observations. While many students expressed enthusiasm about growing technology and innovation sectors, some indicated a lack of clarity and confidence of pathways for specific roles and skills required by these industries. Others showed keen interest in sustainability-focused careers, reflecting a strong alignment with Tauranga’s push for environmental responsibility.

What was exciting to see was a shift in perception about the region being a study and career destination of choice. This differs from previous years where students have historically left Tauranga to study and work, thinking that the opportunities did not exist here. However, as Tauranga Moana continues to be the fastest growing city in Aotearoa, these survey results underscore the importance of continued collaboration between educational institutions and the business community to become more robust and provide clearer pathways into emerging fields. Instep, is committed to leveraging this data to enhance its efforts in making the Western Bay of Plenty an enticing destination for young people to live, learn, work and play. Below are a selection of responses:  

In the wake of the Canvas Careers Expo, the future of work in the Western Bay of Plenty appears ripe with potential. With innovation, technology, infrastructure and sustainability poised to be at the forefront of the region’s growth, bridging the understanding gap for students as emerging job seekers is paramount. The expo, bolstered by the insights from the student surveys, serves as a cornerstone for paving the way to a thriving future where the next generation can confidently contribute to and shape our region. 

For more information about Canvas and how to get involved check out: www.canvas.co.nz