Tracey, like e-commerce courses, takes off

Tracey Adams is one of the first five to emerge from Waikato University's management school clutching its new bachelor of e-commerce degree.

Tracey Adams is one of the first five to emerge from Waikato University's management school clutching its new bachelor of e-commerce degree.

But, reflecting the times, the 29-year-old former Hamilton-based Harcourts real estate administrator is using her qualification to start a new life in Australia.

This week, just a few days after graduating, she began work as the logistics finance administrator for Pirelli tyres in Sydney. Her work involves co-ordinating and tracking the online deliveries of tyres from Asia and Europe so distributors know when shipments can be expected.

“I guess there is so much opportunity [in Australia]. There is more industry, the weather is nicer and it pays a lot better," she says in explaining her shift.

But the former student of Edgecumbe College and Whakatane High feels the degree, which combined business with technology, was essential in giving her a leg-up into her new career. The three-year course involved practical work with a Hamilton photography software company, Grasshopper, in addition to class work, which she says was always technologically up to date.

Professor Robert McQueen, Waikato's professor of e-commerce technologies, is satisfied with the progress of the course, noting that four of the first five graduates have already netted jobs -- in technical development, web development, working for the Korean Navy and in consultancy.

A further six graduate this winter, and 20 or so more a year from now.

McQueen says many of the first few intakes on the the BeCom programme were in their late 20s or older, coming back to university after five or 10 years of seeing where job demand was coming come. Such demand, he says, was shown by the “overwhelming response” from businesses wanting to offer the students work experience as part of the degree.

“Our role is to equip the students to contibute and fit into an organisation in two or three years' time, so we have to teach what is important three years ahead. We are not trying to train in the latest software, we are equipping them with the tools and understanding to attack problems with a great deal of hands-on experience. And part of what we are doing is to bring our students up to speed on how rapid change can be,” he says.

He says that over the next four or five years, a large proportion of business start-ups will have important technology components. "The potential for this country, though, is for this model of integration to be much more widely taken up. Every graduating teacher, accountant, doctor, personal trainer and farmer ought to be able to ply their craft with a full range of skills, including technical literacy."

Other New Zealand universities are similarly e-equipping graduates.

Auckland University of Technology produces its first business graduates next year that have a “significant” e-business component, in addition to its rising number of general IT students.

Victoria University produced its first 150 e-commerce graduates last year and will produce 200 more this year.

While the jobs market was more difficult this year, a Victoria spokesman says, a few graduates were going overseas but many were finding jobs in the capital, generally in e-commerce and web development but also in business, commerce or administration, since the courses cover business and management and not just IT.

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