Guiding Career Choices
Careers New Zealand, part of the TEC since 1st July 2017, helps young people make informed decisions about their career choices and link them to resources they need to get started with training and employment.
Digital is a key channel to young people, their parents, schools and other institutions seeking advice to guide career choices. Careers New Zealand offer a range of digital resources and tools aimed at helping people at different life stages, from school students through to those contemplating career change.
Using the careers.govt.nz(external link) website, people can get job ideas based on their skills, experience, interests or school subjects, understand the best study options, or see what kind of job opportunities are available in different parts of the country.
The website is widely used through New Zealand schools, attracting over 4.4 million visits every year.
One very popular digital tool Careers New Zealand offers is CV Builder, enabling people to build an effective resume and store it online. Almost 200,000 CVs had been created by people using the original tool, and Careers New Zealand saw an opportunity to strengthen and expand the service, says General Manager Jane Ratcliffe. “Our short-term goals were focussed on making the tool responsive (easy to use on mobile devices), and more intuitive so users were less likely to need support to complete a CV.”
“We also wanted to create a platform that would enable innovation in the future. For example, work brokers being able to access a database of information from job seekers and match to vacancies; or automatic integration with job websites like Trade Me or Seek. We also came up with a new data model to allow more streamlined reporting, while increasing the integrity of the data.”
The focus of the immediate upgrade of CV Builder was to implement the short-term goals and improve the technology platform for future innovation.
Since the revamped CV builder went live, an additional 17,000 CVs have been created, around 15% of which were commenced on a mobile device.
Pushing the Boundaries of CWP
The project team decided to use a development technology for CV Builder that enabled them to take a ‘microservices’ approach. Microservices are a specific ‘service’ that operates within a larger information system, and can be developed and changed without requiring the rest of that system to be upgraded. They chose a development technology called Lumen from Larvel.
“We wanted an architectural format where you could deploy independently; similarly, if you did website deployment it wouldn’t bring integration of the tool down, that’s why we chose a different technology. It could be living as its own tool, you could move it around as you like and it would have less impact on other integrations,” says Tim Nesdale, Digital Practice lead.
As Careers New Zealand were redeveloping CV Builder a decision was also made to deliver the new website on the common web platform (CWP), provided by SilverStripe on behalf of the Department of Internal Affairs. A variety of reasons drove the decision, but the security and stability offered by the CWP was key.
The CWP offers government agencies the tools to build and deploy websites, but Lumen had already been selected. The project faced a major challenge to adapt its output to the CWP platform, says Jane.
"There were many conversations, multiple tech workshops – from a project perspective we had two alternatives: Stick with CWP and work to develop our code so that it works within the CWP, which required a considerable investment or go down another road and incur a lot of infrastructure and operational costs."
Careers NZ decided the lower risk approach was to work with the CWP framework.
The CWP is a “Platform as a Service” for New Zealand Government websites. SilverStripe is contracted by the Department of Internal Affairs to provide the platform. It provides a bundle of technology and services that enable government agencies to quickly, cost-effectively and safely build highly functional websites to service their stakeholders.
If the ultimate measure of any digital project is the outcome for the end user, CV Builder project has been a success, enabling a higher level of self-sufficiency amongst users.
“We wanted to set a standard, to guide people to make it easier to build CVs, rather than putting hurdles in their way. We managed to achieve this with the new tool. In general, the feedback on the tool is good and that manifests itself in reduced calls to our Advice Line,” says Jane.
Tim adds, “In terms of security it definitely helped. CWP has capability built in and that came with its own advantages.”
For the project team, navigating through a complex development process was a triumph. “We got a good outcome,” says Jane, from a project where they had to push the CWP team to adapt.
“SilverStripe came to the table, they provided support, and they gave us direction and were forthcoming with a lot of pre-emptive issues we could possibly run into. Silverstripe opened the door: talked to us about it, which is good. Some of their advice, particularly about Lumen, was extraordinarily helpful throughout the process.”
Jane pays tribute to Careers New Zealand web development team, which worked hard to overcome the challenges of adapting their Lumen project to the CWP. “We had our ups and downs, and challenges but we did it. We’re happy to contribute back to the (public sector) community, if another agency needs assistance we can share our experience.”