Project skills

An Auckland-based pilot programme has helped international student graduates become New Zealand work-ready, and local employers to make the most of international student graduates.

New Zealand is a significant player in the international education market. The international students who graduate with sought-after qualifications in disciplines such as Information Technology represent a vital pool of talent for New Zealand employers, many of whom are struggling to find enough local skilled applicants.

But sometimes the graduates and the employers fail to connect. On the one hand, international students lack New Zealand job market experience, while on the other, many New Zealand employers know little about recruiting or working with international student graduates.

Project Skills was set up to address these issues. Run from February to July in 2016, the pilot programme was jointly created and run by Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Education New Zealand (ENZ) and Immigration New Zealand.

Project Skills included study-to-work seminars, an Industry-Connect Boot Camp for international graduates in software development and testing, and an employer-graduate networking evening.

At the Study-to-Work Seminars, Paul Millar of Immigration New Zealand presented visa information and recruitment specialist Hilary McCabe of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce gave job-search tips and advice.

Seminar at University of Auckland

Paul Millar of Immigration New Zealand and recruitment specialist Hilary McCabe of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce present a seminar at the University of Auckland.

The seminars, held at the University of Auckland, AUT and the National Tertiary Education Consortium, were attended by around 800 International students from a full range of tertiary education providers. They were well received, with 95 percent of the students giving positive feedback.

The second component of Project Skills was a six-week Industry Connect Boot Camp for international students who had graduated with software development or testing qualifications. Twenty graduates took part in the camp, which set out to equip them with the technical and soft skills that would make them job-ready.

The final component of Project Skills was an employer networking event held in late July. This brought together 15 boot camp graduates and nine employers from the IT Sector to get to know one another.

Jason Chand of MBIE, one of the organisers, says the programme has succeeded on a number of measures, one of them being jobs. “I know a number of the boot camp graduates have been interviewed by software development companies, and some of them have taken up job offers and are now out there developing apps for the finance sector and software testing for the transport sector. It’s great to see skilled international graduates contributing to the New Zealand economy.”