Auckland schools work with industry to fast-track students into tech careers

Friday, 27 May 2022

Four Auckland secondary schools will now offer students an option to enrol in P-TECH, a public education model designed by educators and the private sector to address the STEM skills gap. These schools will collaborate with companies that will provide students with mentorships, worksite visits, and paid internships.

The secondary schools -- Tāmaki College, Onehunga College, Southern Cross Campus and Māngere College -- will partner with technology employers ANZ Bank, Foodstuffs North Island, IBM, Kyndryl, Spark NZ, Vodafone NZ, and new tertiary partner Media Design School alongside existing tertiary partner Manukau Institute of Technology. 

In New Zealand, P-TECH students complete a free, five-year structured programme that combines high school, tertiary university education, and tech workplace experience. Upon completing the programme, students will have both their NCEA qualifications, and a New Zealand Diploma aligned to industry needs. Successful graduates of the P-TECH programme typically earn first-in-line consideration at affiliated industry partners when applying for jobs. 

In addition to technical learning, students also gain opportunities to build work-ready skills, like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, resilience, and time management.

Pete Jones, Principal, Manurewa High School, one of the first schools in New Zealand to offer the programme, says “P-TECH offers a structured and scaffolded co-designed programme to give students a pathway and transition into well paid, high skilled careers that open doors anywhere in the world. Both students and staff really value the opportunity to work closely with industry partners to apply skills in a real-world environment.

In 2022, approximately 250 students from year 11, 12 and 13 will enrol in P-TECH across the six participating schools, while some students from the 2019 intake at Manurewa High School and Aorere College will start paid internships with industry partners IBM and The Warehouse Group come summer. 

Māori and Pasifika representation in P-TECH in New Zealand to date is 83% collectively, compared to the NZ IT workforce where only 4% are Māori and 2.8% are Pasifika, according to the Digital Skills Aotearoa 2021 report. Almost 35% of students enrolled in P-TECH in New Zealand are young women. 

Industry partners play a vital role by giving students a range of workplace experiences and contribute to a ‘skills mapping’ process to ensure skills being developed are aligned with ICT jobs that are in short supply, such as software engineers, web developers and security specialists. 

New Zealand and many other countries are experiencing a shortage of ICT and STEM skills as industries are being reshaped by data science, AI, cloud computing and cybersecurity. 

Established in New York in 2011 by IBM in partnership with educators, P-TECH is a global education and career readiness model that equips graduates to start new collar careers, continue their education, or both.

IBM has committed to skill 30 million people worldwide by 2030. Justin Wright, Acting Country Lead for IBM New Zealand says P-TECH aims to help fast track young people from all backgrounds into technology careers. 

P-TECH has introduced thousands of students worldwide to practical applications of data and AI, to coding and how technology can be used to help address problems of all kinds. Many of these students never previously thought about pursuing a career in tech, but a big part of this programme is about challenging and changing that perception,” he says.

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