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Qual IT launches new graduate program to combat growing IT skill shortage

By Mitchell Hageman, Wed 1 Dec 2021

Qual IT NZ has announced the launch of its new graduate program in a bid to combat the country's growing IT skills shortage.

According to a recent report by New Zealand/Te Pou Hangarau Ngaio and NZTech on behalf of the New Zealand Government, an over-reliance on immigration and lack of investment in developing domestic talent has resulted in a significant mismatch in skill supply and demand. 

The pandemic and resulting shutting of borders has seen much of our incoming international IT workforce decline. The research indicates that more than 50% of new IT jobs were filled via immigration before the border closure.  

The new Qual IT graduate program hopes to shift the focus to training and upskilling locally in order to help meet the demand for IT professionals.

Qual IT head of practice & capability Jill Thorburn says that with such a fast-growing industry, the opportunities are endless for new graduates to start forging their IT careers.

"IT is an area with exceptional employment outcomes and the Qual IT grad programme is a great opportunity for people who wish to enter this industry."

Thorburn says that the mix of both technical work experience and classroom learning is a very effective education model, and the first intake of graduates are currently working at industry placements around the country.

"We offer our graduates all the benefits of full-time employment throughout the 14-week training programme. The trainees aren't all recent graduates, some have worked in other areas but decided they want to pursue a career in software testing," she says.

"The first intake of graduates has just completed foundation training, a four week course of classroom-based learning at Qual IT, followed by two weeks of further technical training and they have now embarked on an eight week learning placement on a client assignment. This learning placement is fully supported by Qual IT."

Placement locations cover various industries and vocations, with a large majority being major state-owned enterprises.

"We are very grateful to Transpower, the New Zealand Police, Waka Kotahi, the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Central Region Technical Advisory Services for supporting our programme by allowing our graduates to gain real-life work experience in their businesses alongside our experts," says Thorburn.

An established relationship with Wellington vocational education provider Whitireia and WelTec has also paid dividends for both Qual IT and the polytechnic. Professional analysts from Qual IT have lent their expertise as guest lecturers at Whitireia and WelTec, and they have provided useful advice that helped develop the Qual IT graduate programme. 

Whitireia and WelTec's head of school for IT and business Mary-Claire Proctor welcomed the partnership and is pleased that pathways are helping get graduates into jobs.

"Creating positive ākonga and employer outcomes by collaborating with industry is a key objective of Whitireia and WelTec, and this is a great example," she says.

Student feedback on the graduate program has been very positive so far, with many success stories. One of them is Whitireia graduate Dalvir Singh, who is currently working on test techniques and studying small business requirements. He hopes to be dealing with his first client engagement in the coming weeks.

"It really is a privilege to be able to transition straight into the industry like this. The job security is so reassuring. My studies were great, but this is the real thing now and I'm learning so much with all the benefits of full-time employment," he says.

With the success of this year's program, Qual IT representatives hope to extend operations from their Wellington office to their Auckland office to help further encourage IT education across the regions.

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