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Local tech players tackle skills crunch with AWS

Local tech players tackle skills crunch with AWS

As part of Amazon Web Services’ ongoing re/Start programme.

Nick Walton (AWS)

Nick Walton (AWS)

Credit: Supplied

Datacom, Nextgen Group, Spark, CCL and Leaven are among the local tech industry players stepping up to get new recruits into the tech industry, as part of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) ongoing re/Start programme.

AWS flagged a mission to double down on its training efforts in New Zealand in mid-May, the move coming as the cloud giant opened a new, larger office for itself in the Commercial Bay building in downtown Auckland.

“Last week, we launched the AWS re/Start digital skills programme in New Zealand,” Nick Walton, AWS New Zealand managing director, said at the time. “People who are unemployed or underemployed, particularly within the Māori and Pacific communities, will gain cloud skills by taking part in a free 12-week full-time skills training programme.    

“Delivered in collaboration with Te Pūkenga, a national network of vocational education and training brought together by the New Zealand government, we look forward to providing an update on this programme when this first cohort graduates,” he added.

Now, the first student cohort from the programme in New Zealand has completed the 12-week, skills-based training programme, graduating with pathways to pursue careers in technology.

Every graduate from the first cohort has been matched with an internship at local IT organisations, including Datacom and The Instillery, with the aim to interview for a full-time position upon completion of the internship.

A second cohort is currently underway in Auckland and Christchurch, with no fewer than 10 organisations already committed to providing internships and employment to the next round of graduates.  

Participating organisations include Auckland Council, Datacom, Nextgen Group, Planit, Pushpay, Spark Business Group – including Spark, CCL and Leaven – Vector and WayBeyond.

“Datacom shares AWS’s commitment to addressing the current technology skills shortage in New Zealand by finding different ways to encourage and inspire a career in technology,” said Justin Gray, managing director of Datacom New Zealand.  

“The AWS re/Start programme is a wonderful initiative that provides Māori and Pacific learners a pathway to launch technology careers, and we are thrilled to offer several graduates a full-time role with Datacom following this program,” he added.

AWS re/Start is a free skills development and job training programme designed to prepare learners for cloud computing careers. It is part of Amazon’s stated commitment to bringing cloud computing skills training to communities around the world.

Globally, the programme connects more than 90 per cent of graduates with job opportunities, according to the cloud vendor.  

Locally, the AWS re/Start programme is being run in collaboration with Te Pūkenga, the country’s largest tertiary education provider, to prepare learners for entry-level cloud roles and connect them to job opportunities.  

Unitec, the Auckland-based subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, has delivered the training and engaged with local employers to facilitate employment pathways.

The programme’s stated mission is to build local tech talent by providing AWS cloud skills development and job opportunities to unemployed and underemployed residents, including those from Māori and Pasifika communities.  

“The collaboration with AWS is helping our learners realise their own potential while exploring exciting and sustainable career pathways,” said Dila Beisembayeva, AWS re/Start programme manager at Te Pūkenga. “The program offers new and innovative career opportunities, and the experience has literally changed the lives of learners.”  

For Tim Dacombe-Bird, country manager of public sector for AWS New Zealand, the programme enables the vendor to invest in local talent by providing accessible technology skills, development and job opportunities to the entire community, including people who may never have considered a career in technology.

“Cloud and technology skills are in extremely high demand, and it is our mission to help organisations meet their hiring needs for qualified, skilled professionals while also empowering local citizens to pursue a future in technology,” Dacombe-Bird said.  

AWS isn’t the only vendor working to build out the skills needed for businesses to use its products and services. In July last year, Microsoft announced a global skills initiative aimed at bringing digital skills to 25 million people worldwide, including 100,000 in New Zealand by the end of 2020.  

Vendors and partners alike are on the hunt for fresh tech talent, with the supply of skills in the tech space stifled by border closures arising from COVID-19 measures, further compounding an ongoing skills shortage in the tech sector.

Graeme Muller, CEO of technology industry umbrella group NZTech, has been particularly vocal about the country’s increasingly severe IT skills shortage, calling for the government to allow essential tech workers into New Zealand, despite border closures.  

“We have surveyed hundreds of NZ tech companies to see what we can be done, we have shared the data with the government, shown them the impacts and suggested options, but nothing is being done to address the problem,” Muller said in August.  

“In theory, it is simply a case of agreeing that with thousands of open roles, these technical skills are not readily available in New Zealand, using exactly the same logic as they did for vets.  

“Meanwhile, the impact is that hundreds of jobs paying well over $100,000 are being shifted out of New Zealand every week and critical digital projects across business and government agencies are not getting done,” he added.


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