Silicon Welly

Wellington’s status as a technology hub will be enhanced with the opening of the Wellington ICT Graduate School, in which Victoria is playing a key role.

Professor Mike Wilson, Victoria's Pro Vice-Chancellor of Science, Engineering and Architecture and Design with director of the ICT graduate school Rees Ward

The School—a partnership between Victoria, Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and Whitireia New Zealand—is the result of a government initiative to increase the number of information and communications technology graduates in New Zealand, and fuel economic growth New Zealand-wide.

In 2016, it will offer Master’s qualifications in four areas: software development; engineering practice; professional business analysis; and information technology.

Professor Mike Wilson, the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Architecture and Design, Engineering and Science, says it’s an exciting opportunity for Victoria.

“Information and communication technologies are already an important part of New Zealand’s productivity, and Wellington has the highest concentration of web-based and digital companies per capita in the country,” says Mike. “The Wellington ICT Graduate School will produce industry-ready graduates with transferable, high-level skills—there’s currently a surplus of ICT jobs out there, so we will be able to feed students directly into that needy market to ensure the burgeoning industry flourishes further.”

The School’s director, Rees Ward, is a Victoria graduate who has worked as a lawyer in London and as a diplomat at the New Zealand Consulate-General in Los Angeles, covering the western United States. “That role enabled me to see the key US innovation hubs in action,” he says. “For Silicon Valley, which is the world’s largest innovation hub, and Los Angeles, which is the world’s third largest, it was interesting to see that the education sector was a key pillar in their success. We hope to emulate that here in Wellington.”

Rees will be based at the Wellington Innovation Hub (also known as the BizDojo) in central Wellington. “This will allow me to work alongside leading ICT companies and find out exactly what they’ll be looking for in our graduates,” he says. “It’s more than academic success—they want graduates with real-world skills and business acumen, too.

“My main aim is to build a bridge between our students and the ICT industry they’ll be working within.”