15 June 2015 · Absolute IT IT News

It’s that time of year when those thinking about studying in 2016 are busy exploring the options available at Universities and Training Institutions around New Zealand. Trying to juggle the balance between finding something that fuels the fire in their belly, but will still pay off and help land a great job at the end can be a trying task.

If you’re thinking the technology sector could be for you, this blog and our latest survey of New Zealand tech employers might offer some helpfully direction about where to start.

Our recent survey of over 440 tech sector employers in New Zealand showed that 56% believe industry specific technical qualifications were the most valuable credential a potential recruit can have under their belt, ahead of a University degree, IT Institute qualifications, and professional memberships.

IT employers and IT training

“The nature of many tech roles in New Zealand is they’re skill specific and what employers are after is either hands on work experience or a specific technical qualification that shows you have put the time into becoming an expert in the field you want to work in,” says Absolute IT Director, Grant Burley.

What IT education pathway is best for you

While these survey results point all roads to industry specific technical qualifications, it’s worth reading on to understand if that really is the best avenue for you at your current career crossroads.

Burley also suggests that, “if you’ve already got some work experience and skills under your belt and want to apply these to a job in the tech sector, an industry specific qualification is a great way to get some hands-on technical skills and demonstrate your commitment to growing your career in tech direction”.

For those jumping into the tech world straight out of school, while our survey results might not reflect this, a University degree is still a great place to start. A degree in computer science and possibly business, while fairly broad, shows your ability to apply yourself, complete projects and a bench marks your achievements. From here you can build on your career with industry and skill specific qualifications,” says Burley.

In previous blogs we have highlighted the power of a degree, and it really is only in the later years of your career, as you climb the career ladder, that having a degree under your belt becomes key.

The power of IT experience

If you don’t yet have any tech work experience, while you’re studying build on your work story, go out and get some – paid or not. The comments from tech employers in our recent survey highlighted that often, above any form of education, experience is the key thing employers are looking for.

“Pick up the phone and hunt out some work experience or an internship – both might lead to paid work in the long term. Even if they don’t, being able to list some hands on experience in your CV might just put you one step ahead of your competition and nab you your dream job,“ says Burley.

Unpaid IT experience

There are lots of organisations out there who need help with their IT. Volunteering New Zealand is a great hub of volunteer opportunities, profiling volunteer organisations throughout New Zealand. Skills for Change is another volunteer jobs search engine but is more focused on web and IT opportunities. And time banks like the Wellington TimeBank offer a unique way to hone your skills.

IT internships

There are also some great programmes like Summer of Tech that connect IT talent with NZ tech employers who help match IT students with IT companies needing to expand. And unlike most internships these ones are paid.

What next? Have you considered a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?

In New Zealand we have loads of institutions, organisation and universities offering study options, but here’s something new you might not know much about, Massive Open Online Courses. These courses are a direct result of tech industry innovation and are designed to prepare tech professionals for the workforce and upskill those currently working in tech jobs.

Udacity Nanodegree for IT professionals

Udacity is an educational organisation that offers MOOCs with a focus on low-cost computer and data science courses. These online courses are built by industry experts like Google, Facebook, and mongoDB and are designed specifically to get tech jobs for their students.

Udacity has offered courses for web developers, data analysts, programmers (and then some) since its inception, but now it’s offering more. For each of the tech disciplines they cover they’ve established an online ‘nanodegree’.

Mooctivity

Mooctivity is an online library, or rather a search engine, of MOOCs. Using Mooctivity you can find online courses based on key course features like start date or subject area. Mooctivity also finds courses that are free!

Further reading