Vocational education provider Te Pūkenga has joined Microsoft, TupuToa and Te Whatu Ora Health NZ in an initiative to fill NZ's cybersecurity skills gap.
Te Pūkenga, which also announced a partnership with AWS this week, is developing a micro-credential in cybersecurity which it aims to offer in March 2023. The course will involve on-campus and work-based experience designed to benefit under-represented learners into entry level roles in cybersecurity.
TupuToa, a social enterprise focused on growing Māori and Pacific leaders, Te Pūkenga and Te Whatu Ora co-developed the tailored programme to make it more accessible to people of all cultures.
Te Whatu Ora is ready to welcome up to ten paid apprentices under the programme, which includes sought after Microsoft certifications, with more organisations are set to follow.
“The pandemic ramped up what was already an incredible rate of digitisation, and that spells huge opportunities for people looking for a career with great prospects," said Vanessa Sorenson, managing director of Microsoft NZ.
"Cybersecurity isn’t just about technical skill – we need people who understand human behaviour, or who can teach vital safety skills. So we want to open those doors as wide as possible.”
Anne Fitisemanu, CEO of TupuToa, said the programme was designed to reflect the needs and experiences of all New Zealanders.
“Protecting sensitive data and privacy is difficult when you don’t have a true understanding of what that means to different people," Fitisemanu said. "Te Pūkenga has nationwide reach that can help more tauira (students) into new career pathways, while making Aotearoa a much safer place to be."
Te Pūkenga was the product of a reform that brought the country’s former institutes of technology, polytechnics and industry training organisations together to provide on-campus, on-the-job and online learning.
“Cybersecurity isn’t just an IT issue – it’s vital to every sector," said Dr Megan Gibbons, deputy chief executive, academic centre and learning at Te Pūkenga.
"There’s strong demand for people to fill cybersecurity roles in industries from healthcare to agriculture, but not enough graduates coming through to meet the need."
Mark Goldsmith, regional commissioner for Auckland Central/East at the Ministry of Social Development also welcomed the initiative, saying it provided an opportunity for people to move into skilled employment.
While the programme is available to all, Māori and Pacific Island tauira will be further supported with wraparound pastoral care from TupuToa, including access to further TupuToa programmes such as workforce readiness workshops and financial literacy training.
TupuToa would also work with Microsoft and Te Pūkenga to support trainees into roles.
Te Whatu Ora national chief information security officer Sonny Taite said he was looking forward to helping build information security teams who reflect the diversity of the Aotearoa health sector.
“We will not only be providing apprenticeships but a direct pathway for rangatahi and anyone else wanting a change in career to advance into senior cyber security roles,” he said.