Computer education OK, more or less

New Zealand's education institutes are meeting the IT needs of employers, more or less. That's the finding of the first Computerworld 1000 Survey for 1998. Our survey, of 27 top IT managers, asked about IT education needs, skill sets and whether our institutions are meeting the requirements of the market. Both universities and polytechnics scored well with IT managers, although seven of the 27 interviewed did prefer to hire experienced staff rather than those straight from an institute. Wayne Ewington from Cellnet Mobile Services is one such manager. "We look at education and experience, not which institute they've attended," he says.

New Zealand’s education institutes are meeting the IT needs of employers, more or less. That’s the finding of the first Computerworld 1000 Survey for 1998.

Our survey, of 27 top IT managers, asked about IT education needs, skill sets and whether our institutions are meeting the requirements of the market. Both universities and polytechnics scored well with IT managers, although seven of the 27 interviewed did prefer to hire experienced staff rather than those straight from an institute. Wayne Ewington from Cellnet Mobile Services is one such manager.

“We look at education and experience, not which institute they’ve attended,” he says.

He also believes that although educational institutes are not meeting employers’ needs, that’s OK.

“You have to invest in the future. It’s a balancing act. They typically concentrate on the emerging technology, like Java, which makes it a bit difficult when you’ve got legacy systems out there.”

IT managers see polytechs offering more practical, relevant courses while universities offer broader, more rigorous programmes.

Colonial Mutual’s Gerard Paver can see some danger in the current education policy.

“I think the policy is a little bit counterproductive to the industry because they’re interested in getting the numbers through the classrooms instead of quality.”

Paver believes institutes that allow “soft” passes are doing a disservice to the industry and to the individual.

He looks for character before skill sets, working on the belief that a person with the right attitude can always learn new skills and makes a more valuable team member than someone who is highly trained but unwilling to learn something new.

“Professionalism, attitude and motivation are the keys,” he believes.

The skills managers look for when hiring IT staff range from the interpersonal (“team skills”, “literacy” and “communication skills”) to the pragmatic (“LAN” “peripherals”, “application support”) and many believe education institutes should teach more practical skills.

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