Govt unveils $28.6m education funding in a bid to boost ICT talent

The government will invest $28.6 million operating funding (including $11.8 million of contingencies) over the next four years in three Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate Schools.

According to Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce, the funding is designed to help address significant high-level skills shortages in the rapidly growing ICT industry, Tertiary Education,

The new ICT Graduate Schools, a Budget 2014 initiative and part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, will be based close to ICT firms in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with the Christchurch programme set to be located within the Christchurch Innovation Precinct.

The new schools will be provided with funding for education, research and collaborative initiatives to attract top students and academics and connect them closely with high-value high-tech firms.

The aim, according to Joyce, is to accelerate the growth of New Zealand’s ICT talent.

“We’re expecting to see a combination of final-year under-graduate and post-graduate programmes at the schools, plus an innovative use of internships and research with high-tech firms, to improve the connections between providers and businesses, and ensure a smooth transition of students into work,” he says.

Tertiary institutions have significantly boosted the number of higher level ICT places over the last few years.

“The total number of domestic ICT equivalent full-time places at advanced levels has increased by 19 per cent since 2010,” Joyce adds.

“However, the demand from employers for skilled graduates is strong and continuing to grow.

“The Government will continue to increase its investment in quality ICT education and these new graduate schools will take the training of work-ready ICT graduates to another level.

“The New Zealand ICT industry is making a name for itself on the world stage and is growing rapidly.

“It is crucial New Zealand lifts significantly the number of people with high level ICT skills and knowledge so they can help drive innovation in this sector and build a more productive and internationally competitive economy.”

A tender process will be used to seek innovative proposals from education providers and their industry partners to develop and operate the ICT Graduate Schools.

“We want to see the business sector involved in the design and delivery of the new programmes at the graduate schools to ensure they remain current and relevant in what is a dynamic and rapidly evolving industry,” Joyce adds.

It is expected the first students will enter the schools in the second semester of 2015, with full implementation expected by 2018.

The tender for the graduate schools will be managed by the Tertiary Education Commission with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

More information on the ICT Graduate Schools is available at : www.tec.govt.nz/About-us/News/TEC-Now/ICT-Graduate-School-programme/

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