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Computing School Attuned To Industry Changes

EIT’s School of Computing is continuing to fine-tune its suite of programmes with robotics and automation as it responds to the changing needs of a fast-growing and evolving industry.

Late last year, a Government-backed report warned of a growing IT skills shortage in New Zealand.

The industry-driven Digital Skills Forum study, described as this country’s most comprehensive report on technology in a generation, noted that the number of New Zealanders graduating with tech- related degrees and diplomas was increasing at the rate of about seven percent – encouraging, it said, but not enough to meet industry growth.

Responsiveness to computing sector needs is reflected in EIT diploma and degree programmes that include industry-based placements or internships. These can and often do lead to offers of permanent employment.

Consulting regularly with an advisory committee that includes people working locally in the IT sector, the School of Computing tailors its programmes to prepare students for the fast-paced job market.

As an example of that – and subject to NZQA approval – it is introducing a new intelligent systems major as a further option for Bachelor of Computing Systems students.

Following a generic first year, students major in the second and third years of the degree. The existing majors are systems development, support infrastructure and information systems.

Creative and hands-on, the new major, expected to come on stream in the second semester this year, is likely to attract high-achieving school leavers who want to future-proof their jobs.

As assistant head of school Dr David Skelton points out, “things are changing so quickly in technology”.

Students have access to a new robotics lab equipped with 3D printers and electronics to create parts for building electronics and robots, along with the software development training.

Student activities in the robotics lab will prepare students for real- life industry scenarios, such as the automation developments at companies like T & G and Pan Pac.

The school’s suite of programmes range from level 2, 3 and 4 certificates through to the bachelor’s degree, graduate and postgraduate diplomas and the level 9 Master of Information Technology.

A final-year Bachelor of Computing Systems student, 22-year-old Harley Simmons appreciates the different entry points available to those wanting to study computing.

Leaving William Colenso College, Harley didn’t know where to head his life and took a year out, working in a manual job. The experience confirmed that he didn’t see his future in labouring, and, deciding on EIT study but not feeling especially computer savvy, he started on a level 4 programme and progressed to the degree.

From the outset, he says, the school’s lecturers emphasised the need to keep upskilling.

And it’s with that in mind that Harley plans returning to EIT after he graduates, perhaps undertaking a course each semester, to keep current and develop new skills.