NZ Computer Society raises $300,000 for schools programme

UPDATE 1.30pm: Rollout scheduled to begin in Dunedin in July, ICT-Connect sponsors named

The NZ Computer Society has gained $300,000 of sponsorship over the next two years to fund its ICT-Connect programme in schools.

ICT-Connect involves ICT companies adopting a school and industry participants visiting schools to acquaint students with the realities of a career in ICT.

The programme’s “Premier Partners”, contributing $15,000 per year, are Datacom, Orion Health and the Simpl Group.

“This level of support is stunning and is unprecedented for any project ever from our understanding - from any organization, not just NZCS,” says the society’s CEO Paul Matthews. Most sponsors have committed for the first two years.

“We could have gone ahead on about half the money we’ve actually got,” he says. The remaining funds will be spent on expanding the programme, catering to more schools, perhaps with a fuller range of material. “We’re still going through the detail of how we might expand it.” The whole of the fund will be “ring-fenced” for spending on ICT-Connect exclusively, Matthews says.

Other sponsors are listed below.

Gold Partners ($8000 pa): Google, Potentia, ASB Bank, Deploytech, IntegrationWorks and the University of Otago

Association Partners ($5000 pa): NZ Software Association, Health IT Cluster, InternetNZ Silver Partners ($5000 pa):Intergen, Designertech, Ministry of Economic Development, SLI Systems Partners ($1500 pa): Jade Corporation, KPMG, Aura Information Security, AUT University, Core Education, Cortexo, EnvisionIT, EOSSOnline, Kelly Services, Knowledge Cue, Sead Ltd, Southern Institute of Technology, Wanganui District Council, Catalyst IT, Equinox, University of Auckland, CPIT Supporters ($500 pa): 3P Learning, Lloyd Executive, Workbright, Dale Jennings, Cizar Abugazaleh, I2i Insurance Brokers. The next two months will be spent selecting, coordinating and training the instructors, who are expected to come from a much broader range of industry sources than just the sponsor companies. “We want to ensure that the people going into a school represent a broad range of ICT,” Matthews says.

The programme will kick off in earnest in July, with the first visits to schools.

Instructors will be briefed to present the image of the industry as involving a very varied repertoire of work. The society is particularly concerned to counter some of the “myths” at large in schools; on the one hand that ICT doesn’t involve “just sitting in darkened rooms turning out lots of code,” nor is it a matter of working with off-the-shelf products such as word processing documents and PowerPoint presentations, Matthews says.

UPDATE 1.30pm: Rollout scheduled to begin in Dunedin in July

“In 2012, NZCS is looking to roll out the programme across Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington,” says Ben Smith for NZCS’s projects and engagement team. “The intention at this stage is to commence with Dunedin in late July. The remaining areas will progressively be [covered] over the remainder of 2012.”

Given the wide industry support for ICT-Connect, NZCS is looking to roll the programme out to an additional two areas in 2012, Smith says. “At this stage the areas haven’t been finalized, but we are looking at all the options.”

In the near future, NZCS will be asking for Expressions of Interest from ICT professionals and schools who wish to participate in the programme. “Professionals and schools alike will be required to complete an online form which will allow NZCS to systematically assign professionals to a cohort of schools in their local area,” Smith says.

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