Hitching up IT students with businesses is creating mutually beneficial relationships through the innovative IBM Delivery Centre’s ‘earn while you learn’ programme.
Since the programme's inception 18 months ago at Unitec’s Mt Albert campus 25 young Kiwis have secured permanent jobs, and now there’s a call for more big businesses to get involved.
The programme was started in part because of the skills shortage in the New Zealand IT sector.
While a job isn’t guaranteed at the end, the course provides hands on, real life work experience for students which could give them a greater advantage than other graduates. The high calibre of the students has seen 65% of the centre’s graduates secure jobs and now Westpac is urging more New Zealand corporates to get involved.
Westpac has offered 9 students permanent roles in the past year, with more under consideration. They have been placed across the business in digital innovation, project co-ordination, message broker, Business Process Modelling (BPM), and system administration.
Jason Millett, Westpac’s CIO, says the course has excellent potential to boost New Zealand’s IT sector.
“The first 18 months has shown the potential this programme has and the benefits there are for students and employers. The time is right to extend its reach by more businesses getting involved helping widen the experience students can get.”
“That would benefit the students, the companies and the wider New Zealand IT sector.”
Former Unitec student turned Westpac employee Altaf Parkar said the work experience was what he found most valuable about the programme.
“It helped put my studies into practice, while getting paid to do so. The work I did for Westpac helped me showcase my skills to them and as a result I was successful in securing a permanent job,” he said.
Colin Campbell, a Senior Capability Leader in Westpac’s Technology team, was impressed by the capability of the students, recruiting 4 of them into the bank’s BPM and Message Broker teams.
“Being able to see the technical skills and aptitude of the students first-hand meant I was confident they had the skills and would fit in with our teams. It takes out that element of uncertainty that can often be there when recruiting,” he said.
Students undergo an extensive recruitment process, but once accepted they find themselves working on cutting edge technology solutions and highly visible and time pressured projects, getting invaluable experience to enter the workforce as a competitive candidate, not just a graduate.