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Internship pathway sees Manaiakalani students enter IT

The career experience conundrum is one of the biggest roadblocks in the path of young Kiwis. How do you get the experience needed to be desirable hire, when you can't get hired to accrue experience?

Fusion Networks noticed how this trend was failing young people while recruiting to meet the needs of their work with the expansion of Manaiakalani. The team came up with an idea to work with the Manaiakalani Education Trust and Tamaki College to give students IT experience.

The Fusion IT Intern Pathway gets Tamaki College students in years 11-13, who are interested in a technology career, to begin their journeys toward gainful employment. Fusion Networks CEO Andrew Gurr says staff with experience in schools make capable IT engineers.

“We became involved in Manaiakalani very early… working to design ways to ensure technology supports digital learning.

“We've had challenges finding the right staff as the Manaiakalani programme has grown. By chance we discovered that staff with experience in schools fresh out of tertiary training were just as capable and proficient as senior IT engineers.

The team worked together with Tamaki to create a series of NCEA programmes that lead to the full internship programme. After establishing the programme, Fusion has already seen two students move into working onsite.

Arahura Neho-Simon and Leeroy Pohatu are the first interns of the programme and are back on the old school grounds, this time to manage their IT network.

Neho-Simon says IT has always been a passion, and the programme has been a great opportunity to follow his dreams.

“When I was at school I really wanted to do IT. I did a Level 5 Diploma at Techtorium. Now I'm working towards my Level 6 and I'm an apprentice IT Technician. They placed me here in Tamaki to learn with Raj [...]  he gives us jobs to do, as we would out in the real world.

“This means a lot to me – it's putting me where I want to go, so I already have the experience and I could just get hired like that in any company.

Pohatu says he's basically turning a hobby into careers by working with Fusion, he's getting to do what he enjoys as a job.

“It helps me develop my skills, I'm pretty confident in what I can do now, I'm sure my skills are going to skyrocket, just like that.

“This is not what I thought I could do, just get straight out of college and be doing something I actually like to do, that's pretty much what I want to be doing in the future. I'm just getting paid for doing what I like to do.

The benefits of having ex-students move into IT roles in the school means the partnership will work for both parties, says systems engineer at Tamaki College Raj Sharan.

“Since they are coming from the Manaiakalani school, it has been a good transition coming over to Fusion. They know the staff, the environment and it's quite easy for them to understand. So, it's going to bring good value to the school and the community as well.

Manaiakalani chair Pat Sneddon says the key to their success is the partnerships that create these pathways.

“We discovered from the beginning that what made Manaiakalani work was that was an amalgam of our partners.

“We've got Fusion working with the secondary schools around the country who are in the Manaiakalani programme, offering the opportunity for kids at the end of their schooling, to connect with this employer, to have on the job experience to understand what it's like to work in a corporate environment, and to actually experience some success and getting some training which will enable them to be very much more employable when they leave school.

Gurr says this type of approach is investing in young people and will, in turn, invest in the IT industry.

“I think it's an industry-wide problem for any sector. We have a responsibility to give students the experience that we're expecting them to have when they turn up asking for employment.

“The best part is we can develop the future work force yet at the same time give back to communities we are looking after, as part of our commitment to the Manaiakalani programme.

The partnership will hopefully encourage other employers to make the same investments. Gurr says he'd love to see the industry take a look at its recruitment after seeing the outcomes of this programme.

“So my aspiration for this programme is to challenge the way employers look at creating their employees. We should all be part of an integrated training programme with tertiary.

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