Grayson Zhang of the Ministry of Social Development is on a mission to get disadvantaged Kiwi youths in the technology sector.
Zhang is developing a pilot programme to get Kiwi youths (aged 18 to 24) to participate in an ‘IT work experience’ to expose them to the industry, help them build skills and connect with career mentors.
The emphasis will not be on paid ‘work placement’ but to give these young people from underserved communities the chance to explore the IT industry more deeply and encourage them to consider careers in the sector that they may not have considered before, says Zhang.
The programme is envisioned to last 10 to 13 weeks, with 30 participants - 15 each in Auckland and Wellington.
Zhang says the participants will meet with employers so they will have a better understanding of the range of opportunities available and potential career pathways in ICT.
They will be taught entry level IT skills, including an introduction to programming/development and IT infrastructure.
The participants will also take part in a number of paid ‘micro-internships'.
He points out an interesting question right now is the societal impact of increasing automation of jobs and digitisation of services. The programme aims to raise awareness on this issue.
Once something like this gets underway, gets entrenched and scaled up, then there is the potential for it to become a pathway in the industry that did not exist before, says Zhang.
'New collar jobs'
If your organisation has a strong CSR (corporate social responsibility) dimension, the IT work experience programme is an area you can get involved in, says Ian Scott, national manager, Randstad Technologies.
Scott says a lot of initiatives around workplace diversity is on gender, but this programme is around getting people of different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to participate in ICT.
He says the programme is looking to address two issues, diversity and youth unemployment, or those in this group “who are not connecting to the labour market”.
“We are seeing the shifting of the creation of ‘new collar jobs’,” says Scott.
‘New collar jobs’, coined by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, do not need a traditional four-year degree, but require a good amount of skills often obtained through vocational training.
“We can create an environment for those youth to connect to those jobs even before these are being created,” says Scott.
“It stops them from becoming disenfranchised and the creation of social issues off the back of it.”
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