Mentorships, worksite visits and paid internships are part of a free programme that looks to get more Māori and Pasifika working in the information technology sector.
Hundreds of students from three South Auckland schools and one in Onehunga will be enrolled in a public education model programme dubbed P-Tech - designed to address a gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Tāmaki College, Onehunga College, Southern Cross Campus and Māngere College will partner with technology employers ANZ Bank, Foodstuffs North Island, IBM,
Kyndryl, Spark NZ, Vodafone NZ and tertiary partner Media Design School. Existing original schools involved in the programme are Aorere College and Manurewa High School.
Up to 250 secondary school students will be enrolled in the free initiative that will see them take part in a five-year structured programme that brings together high school and tertiary education as well as tech workplace experience.
By the time they complete it, they will have gained their NCEA qualifications and a New Zealand Diploma aligned to industry needs.
The students will also get first-in-line consideration rights when applying for jobs later down the track at those businesses or industry partners that are involved.
Seeking a different career path
Students also gain opportunities to build work-ready skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, resilience and time management.
At a special event today, Manurewa High student Mykah Togiatu, 16, and Māngere College student Teivanui Tararo, 15, were among those to share about their experiences in the course.
Mykah is in her third year on the P-Tech programme and is working towards getting a job in the cyber security space one day. She hopes other young Pasifika women follow suit.
"[I'm] excited to be a part of an initiative inspiring young Pasifika girls, like myself, to follow another career path.
"I'm really enjoying all the opportunities like meeting mentors from high-end tech companies like IBM," she said.
"We get to go on site visits to main head offices in Auckland and learn about their contribution to tech in New Zealand."
IBM business consultant and student mentor, Ian Hulme, acknowledged how Māori and Pasifika offered unique and diverse views in the space.
"Māori and Pasifika are trailblazers, innovative whilst also bringing their perspectives and lens to our table."
Hulme said as well as providing the programme, they also helped with life coaching and mentoring the young students.
"Rangatahi (youth) in South Auckland need another career choice to further their scope in the workforce - hence why we're providing the course."
Māori and Pasifika representation in P-Tech in New Zealand to date is 83 per cent overall.
In comparison, the New Zealand IT workforce has about 4 per cent people who identify as Māori and 2.8 per cent who are Pasifika, according to the Digital Skills Aotearoa 2021 report.
Encouragingly, almost 35 per cent of students enrolled in P-Tech in New Zealand are young women.
Industry and education partners such as The Warehouse Group and MIT involved in the programme play a huge role by giving rangatahi the chance to see and experience a range of workplaces and contribute to a skills mapping process.
The hope is that the skills they gain will go on to help fill roles or jobs like that of software engineers, web developers and security specialists.
Manurewa High School principal Pete Jones said P-Tech offers a well-structured entry into well-paid, high skilled career that open doors for their students anywhere in the world.
"Both students and staff are looking forward to working closely with industry partners to apply skills in a real-world environment."