Ginny Hastelow has always loved tinkering with computers, but she never dreamed it would one day become her career.
“Like many other school friends I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I found that my love for technology and solving problems was a good mix for the IT industry! “
After attending a ‘Student for a Day’ event at Techtorium, she was sold on the training provider’s welcoming environment and ‘real world’ approach to learning.
It’s an approach that has paid off for Ginny who easily found a job in IT upon completion of her training.
“Before I started at Techtorium I was so nervous about going for a job interview! But they were with us every step of the way until we landed a job,” she says.
After all, the ultimate outcome of tertiary training should be employment. A qualification is important, but unless it provides the ticket to a job, what’s the point?
Techtorium has worked hard to make this their point of difference: connecting graduates like Ginny, with employers.
“We’re bridging the gap between the skills that our students have and what the industry actually needs,” says Sam Hutchinson, Techtorium’s Director of Marketing and Employment Pathways. “Our plan is to make it easier for employers to find the right graduates for the jobs they have.”
Sam reels off DataCom, Dimension Data, Fujitsu and New Era IT as some of the industry partners with whom Techtorium works.
“We measure the performance of our students all the way through their course and we measure their employability. It means we’ve got a recipe where we know that for a particular student with those core skills, aligned with a particular employer like DataCom for example, there’s a 98% chance that that student will get the job. Because we know what DataCom wants and we know how those skills will align to some of the roles they have coming up,” says Sam.
Sam says Techtorium’s vocational focus allows them the flexibility to align their courses with what the industry needs – as well as meeting NZQA requirements, too. So if an employer is using a particular platform or language, Techtorium will strive to implement that platform into its learning programmes.
“We’re getting feedback from the industry saying ‘if you want your students to get jobs, this is what they need to know – and we’re giving them feedback saying ‘this is what students want, how can they get jobs?’”
Sam says Techtorium has also changed its approach to teaching and learning to help set their graduates up for success in the workplace.
“When a student comes to us to study IT, they are very good technically but sometimes they lack the communication skills and business acumen needed to succeed in the industry. So we realized we had to change the way we were teaching. We were teaching the right skills but we weren’t teaching them how to use those skills in a professional environment.”
So Techtorium responded by introducing an Innovative Learning Environments that mirrored the professional environment. This served to increase collaboration between students and teachers, and a chance to develop the interpersonal competencies – alongside the technical skills – required by employers.
Sam says they’re keen to encourage more young women to consider a career in tech, as they typically have a more structured approach and bring with them not only good technical skills, but also communication and interpersonal skills to do well in the industry. Ginny is the perfect example of how a young woman can thrive in IT.
She says often girls can feel like they won’t be taken seriously in IT.
“Well that is what I had felt like when I was looking into pursuing IT, but then the more I learned and got into it, I found I was achieving more than the guys!” says Ginny.
“Just because the boys are gamers, doesn’t mean they know how to truly become an IT professional!”
That said, Sam says young people who are passionate about IT tend to do well, regardless of how they got on at school.
“Sometimes [Techtorium] suits kids who have become disengaged from school; jumping from maths to science to economics doesn’t suit everyone. We focus on IT and only IT, so these young learners who are wildly passionate about computers, they tend to do quite well – particularly because they’re collaborating with other people who enjoy computer engineering and software development as well. Even our most experienced trainers are learning sometimes because these young guys are coming with some fantastic ideas.”
The vast majority of students at Techtorium are Auckland secondary school leavers, with international students comprising roughly just six per cent of the intake.
Sam says they actively work with the schools to help students make informed decisions about studying IT and coming to a PTE or tertiary institute that offers vocational learning, disproving the assumption that university is the only pathway to employment.
Techtorium is a NZQA Category 1 Private Training Establishment provider in IT qualifications, certifications and training, established in 2004 by Patrick Dowling.