Attracting more Maori to the IT workforce will not only help address the current skills shortage, but can also lead to more innovation, according to EDS.
The IT services firm has launched a new scholarship programme that it says addresses two major issues – the under representation of Maori in the IT industry and the current skills shortage.
Managing director Steve Murray says technology companies are constantly looking for more innovation, which can be achieved with a more diverse workforce.
“Diversity drives innovation and we want to ensure we have diverse perspectives in the workforce.”
The company’s new Maori IT scholarship, launched at Parliament last week, will provide it with a fresh supply of talented employees, while boosting the number of Maori in the industry, says Murray
“Maori are under represented across the IT sector and the knowledge economy. As the country’s largest IT employer, EDS has decided to take a leadership stance in this regard.”
The company is offering five scholarships for Maori students each year. These include four undergraduate scholarships with a $5000 study grant each and a postgraduate scholarship with a $10,000 study grant.
The scholarships also include mentoring and paid work placement during holidays at EDS.
Recipients can apply to have the scholarship renewed each year.
“Their progress will be monitored by myself – I am taking a personal interest in them,” says Murray.
On completion of their studies, scholarship recipients can also move on to the EDS Graduate Programme.
The IT scholarships are the first with a holistic approach to what people need to move from their studies into the workforce, says Murray
“We believe [they] will create well-rounded and well-grounded individuals. I believe these are the first IT scholarships to take this end to end view.”
EDS has partnered with the Maori Education Trust to administer the programme and students apply for the scholarships through the trust.
Meanwhile, the Government has announced that it will match the EDS scholarships dollar for dollar. At a launch event at Parliament last week, Minister of Maori Affairs and Associate Minister of Education Parekura Horomia said the government scholarships will be delivered by Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Maori Development.
Technology is a field Maori have got to be involved in, says Horomia.
“As digitisation progresses, it is important for Maori to become more involved in this sector. We have a shared vision [with EDS] to ensure Maori have a place in the IT sector.”