Three new ICT graduate schools to plug NZ skills gap

Government applies $28.6 million over four years to ICT skills training, signs Vodafone as anchor tenant for Christchurch Innovation Precinct.

The New Zealand Government will invest NZ$28.6 million over the next four years to support three new ICT graduate schools.

The schools will be based close to ICT firms in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with the Christchurch programme located within the new Christchurch Innovation Precinct.

The new schools aim to attract top students and academics and connect them with local high-tech firms.

“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,” tertiary education, skills and employment minister Steven Joyce said.

Christchurch received another boost today when Joyce and Canterbury earthquake recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced that Vodafone's new South Island headquarters will anchor the Innovation Precinct.

The precinct will bring together businesses, innovators, and an ICT graduate school, alongside residential, retail, hospitality and professional service providers to create a vibrant and exciting new part of Christchurch.

Vodafone will will also found its sixth international Xone mobile technology incubator there.

“What is even more encouraging is that there are several other prospective tenants waiting in the wings to secure a place within this precinct, and this will be hugely beneficial to the inner city,” Brownlee said.

Joyce said New Zealand's tertiary institutions have boosted the number of higher level ICT places over the last few years by 19%.

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

“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."

A tender process will be used to seek proposals from education providers and industry to develop and operate the graduate schools.

The first students are expected to enter the schools in the second semester of 2015, with full implementation expected by 2018.