Digital technology will be formally made part of the New Zealand Curriculum - the first change since 2007.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the change would prepare school students for a future in which "digital fluency" would be critial.

The change is a recommendation of the Government's science and society strategic plan "A Nation of Curious Minds".

"The information technology sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in New Zealand, with a demand for skilled graduates. This step will support young people to develop skills, confidence and interest in digital technologies," Ms Parata said.


Schools can already teach digital technologies, it has now been formalised as part of the curriculum.

Consultation will be held until the end of the year, to design new curriculum content, with changes fully integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum for next year.

The Institute of IT Professionals, a technology industry professional body, said today's announcement was welcome.

However, IITP chief executive Paul Matthews said Ms Parata had stopped short of creating a digital technologies learning area, and hadn't provided extra funding for professional development for teachers.

Digital technologies in schools currently sit alongside vocation-based subjects like food technology, woodwork and metalwork.

The industry wants digital technologies moved into its own subject learning area.

"It's like telling a subject as essential as maths that they have to be part of P.E," Mr Matthews said.

"Our industry sees the lack of movement on the structure and position of digital technologies in schools as a real lost opportunity."


Orion Healthcare chief executive Ian McCrae said the "minor changes" were disappointing.

"We said digital technology needed to become an academic subject on a par with maths and physics. That hasn't happened."

Mr McCrae said companies such as Orion and Xero struggled to find graduates within New Zealand with the right skills.

"The pipeline to more top computers science graduates begins at secondary school...the announcement today is a missed opportunity."