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Northland to get new school specialising in tech skills

Whangarei is set to get a new tertiary education provider specialising in software and offering a new web development and design programme.

The Private Training Establishment, cofounded by Ruth Green-Cole and George Norris, will be the first of its kind in the area and seeks to address the skills shortage in the tech sector - both in the region and on a national scale.

Developers Institute is working with industry leaders to create job placement opportunities for graduates. A core focus for the establishment is to help develop practical skills, according to a statement.

Courses will be taught by industry professionals and will focus on areas of the highest employment demand, such as software development, UX and UI design and product management.

Cofounder and director of the school, Ruth Green-Cole, says the curriculum is agile and can move with industry requirements.

She says, “The emphasis of the programme is to help students to become software development professionals.

“Working in software is a commitment to lifelong learning as the industry evolves, and our goal is for students to learn how to learn, so they keep abreast of international technology developments and remain highly valuable for the rest of their career.”

The technology sector offers many opportunities to people looking for well-paid, evolving and flexible work, according to the school.

The 2018 Technology Investment Network 200 Report states that tech is third in NZ’s export stakes, behind dairy and tourism, and tech workers are in high demand.

Furthermore, wages in computer system design firms are usually double the New Zealand average, at $99,744 per annum against $52,950.

In addition, certain jobs in this sector can be conducted remotely, enabling employees to live in Northland but work for companies based elsewhere in New Zealand or further afield. According to the school, global demand for skilled workers outstrips supply.

NZTech CEO Graeme Muller says growth in the tech industry is gaining momentum, as NZ technology firms see growing success overseas.

Muller says, “We are seeing growth in exporting and increasing demand for people with great digital skills. The NZ tech sector continues to grow at a rapid pace creating new jobs faster than any other part of the economy. All parts of the tech sector are growing, from software as a service, hi-tech manufacturing, agritech, health tech to fintech.”

Green-Cole says Northland is experiencing the same high demand for qualified people.

She says, “Our industry partners tell us that the availability of skilled staff is crucial to business growth in Northland, as it is worldwide. We have enquiries from employers now for graduates who have not yet enrolled.”

Acting CEO of Northland Inc, Vaughan Cooper, has welcomed the school as a significant piece of Northland’s growing tech economy.

He says, “Dreams really can become reality - when we first engaged with Hawaiki Cable (an International Fibre Cable Company) we had a dream that the region could develop a digital/tech sector. Why? Because it’s a sector that is growing really fast and pays really well.”

“It’s fantastic to see Developers Institute realise their dream and open this software school. Congratulations to Ruth and George. You are an inspiration and thank you for putting a really significant piece of Northland’s tech sector puzzle in place,” says Cooper.

Initially, the school will target students who are ‘career changers’, aka people with life experience who wish to retrain into the tech sector. School leavers with the right attitude for learning will also be considered.

Developers Institute is currently taking expressions of interest to join a waiting list. Once the applicants have been interviewed, successful candidates will be invited to attend the inaugural class. Spaces for the initial programme will be limited.