Students are dropping-out of high-tech courses, even though plenty of well paid jobs are available for graduates.
This is leading to a shortage of suitable graduates, which is hampering the IT industry. The concern was highlighted at the government's business forum last week.
Massey University and an IT consultancy firm that employs many technologists are calling on people to reconsider their education options as IT firms fight for staff.
Alan Wright, senior lecturer with Massey's Institute of Technology and Engineering, says few people realise the global earning potential of people with technology and engineering degrees, particularly those switching to other courses, believing it makes them more marketable.
Many start off on $40,000 a year, with quick progress to $60,000 or more a year - putting them among the nation's top 25% of earners. There are also lucrative career options overseas.
Wright says his course, which produces about 18 to 30 Bachelor of Technology graduates a year, supplies graduates to businesses including Fletcher Forests, Ericsson Communications and Fisher & Paykel. A trend to consultancy is developing, with graduates going to the Mi Services Group, Anderson Consulting and Baan Consulting, selling and installing SAP and other ERP systems.
"It is embarrassing to have a decline in supply when the degree is becoming more popular," says Wright.
To boost course numbers, it will now be offered at Massey's Albany Campus, making it more accessible to Aucklanders. With his degree course also available at Wellington and Palmerston North, Wright says he could easily take 60 to 70 students.
Mi Services of Auckland employs 220 consultants across Australasia. It takes four Massey Bachelor of Technology graduates every year and has about 16 overall.
Its chief executive John Quirk says the people he gets from the technology degree are brilliant.
“The degree is so employable. We have lots of their graduates in our organisation. They have a real product bent as well as an academic bent," he says.
Mi Services trains the graduates locally and sends many to the US because it is "desperately short of educated, trained people."
"We export people and we bring projects back to New Zealand. Sixty percent of our revenue is done offshore. There is no shortage of jobs for people provided they are willing to travel," he says.
Quirk adds other Kiwi companies, like Peace Computers, send staff overseas to make the most of the opportunities available.
And if New Zealand is to play a role in the global knowledge revolution, it is essential more students pursue science subjects through secondary school and onto university, he says.