IT 'youth' get together unlimited potential

A Wellington organisation of young IT professionals aims to go nationwide by year-end.

A Wellington organisation of young IT professionals aims to go nationwide by year-end.

Unlimited Potential, which claims 500 members, turns one this July and plans to create offshoots in Auckland and Christchurch later this year.

Chairperson Trent Mankelow, a 24-year-old former Unisys software engineer now working as a freelance web developer and trainer, says his group has three main functions — networking, boosting industry knowledge among members and developing their career prospects.

While it uses the website, www.youngit.org.nz, Mankelow says “young” means people with less than five years’ IT experience, rather than being under a certain age, noting that the organisation has a 45-year-old committee member.

The group runs events, such as forums on IT issues, and has campaigned to keep TelstraClear’s Paradise ISP based in the capital rather than Auckland.

Unlimited Potential has secured funding, sponsorship and other backing from Industry New Zealand, Unisys, patent attorneys, ITANZ and TUANZ, plus Wellington’s economic development agency.

In addition to its first annual general meeting in the coming months, the group is heavily involved with the Wellington Ignite conference of professional groups, such as accountancy and law, which expects to have 1500 people attending in August.

Earlier this year the group surveyed its members and found most became involved in IT because they enjoy the work and its challenge, followed by the good money and prospects. However, members also find the lack of collaboration in the industry “aggravating”, which Mankelow says was a surprise considering the development of IT clusters in Wellington and Christchurch.

Furthermore, some two-fifths of the 400 surveyed either work for themselves or aim to, but a similar number find a lack of start-up funding a major obstacle to it.

The Unlimited Potential survey also found that while young IT professionals are likely to spend some time working overseas, three-quarters aim eventually to return to New Zealand.

Indeed, the “Big OE” remains a main focus of young IT workers, recognised by the group staging an event in Wellington on May 8, looking at recruitment and employment issues, plus speakers detailing their experiences of the UK.

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