3 Nov 2014

Institutes propose joint IT school

6:32 am on 3 November 2014

Three of Wellington's biggest tertiary providers want to join forces to start an information technology course to train people to fill hundreds of job vacancies.

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The IT industry has hundreds of vacancies for well paying jobs. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Victoria University, Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia New Zealand have put their case for the graduate school to the Government.

Information technology (IT) is being hit hard by a skill shortage. A Trademe search shows more than 250 jobs in the industry in Wellington paying more than $100,000 a year.

Many in the industry say there are just not enough people to do the work.

To combat that, the Government has announced a $28.6 million investment over four years, for three new IT schools, and tertiary groups in Wellington want to run one together.

Victoria University's Mike Wilson said universities and polytechnics already offered technology courses, but too few people took them, and some graduates did not come out with the skills needed to get them jobs.

"One of the biggest needs that's been expressed by many providers is the need for graduates who not only have high level of technical skill but also soft skills, [such as] the ability to work in teams," he said.

Barry O'Brien, a recruiter at Enterprise Recruitment who specialises in IT hiring, said employers had to look overseas to fill roles.

"Companies are becoming very relaxed about hiring over Skype."

Mr O'Brien welcomed the tertiary group's move to start the IT school and said the joint approach might create the workers employers wanted.

"Everybody needs to have good communication skills and everyone needs to be a team player," he said.

But Frances Valintine, who runs an IT training company and sits on the board of the Technology Industry Association, said a better way to tackle the skill shortage would be to take people from other industries and train them up in technology.

"Why don't we look at the graduate schools actually picking up people with complementary skills ... who have already developed the soft skills, and say look, let's make you technically more literate. Let's develop your competency in technology and digital," she said.

The Tertiary Education Commission has the final say on whether the school gets the green light, as well as others in Auckland and Christchurch.

The Government expects they could be up and running as soon as halfway through next year.

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