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Seeking new skills in a post-COVID world

Madeleine McCarthy completed a Commerce degree last year and was a few months into an internship with a multi-national drinks company, working in logistics, when COVID-19 hit, bringing her internship to a close and shelving any future employment prospects with the company.

She had already been thinking about a career in Cybersecurity, and had been recommended the newly-launched NZ Diploma in Cybersecurity at Unitec; the country’s first tertiary institution to have developed a cyber-qualification in the pre-degree space (Level 6). She has applied for the one-year programme, and is due to interview for a place in the Semester 2 intake in coming days.

Dila Beisembayeva, Academic Programme Manager at Unitec’s School of Computing and Information Technology, worked closely with leading NZ technology company, Datacom, to develop the vocational course.  She said the industry connections the programme provided were invaluable, with students working on placement one day a week. “In an industry stymied by an increasing skills shortage, we’re helping develop our own home-grown talent and ensuring we deliver what industry needs.

“We’re bridging the gap between education and industry, while at the same time providing employment opportunities for students and equipping them with skills for jobs.” 

Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Government Digital Services, said at the launch of the programme earlier this year, “This cybersecurity qualification is a great example of the way vocational education in New Zealand is heading. It’s responding to a very real need. It’s based on collaboration between training providers and industry. And it enables students to train on the job as they study.”

Other industry partners, including Spark and Computer Concepts Ltd (CCL), are now involved with the course, and together with Datacom are hosting nearly 30 students in their security operations centres for practical, on-the-job training.

Madeleine said, “I see cybersecurity as a growth industry and when my internship came to an end, it seemed like a good opportunity to reskill.  I’m looking for a programme of study that can provide me with good industry connections, meaningful employment prospects and hands-on skills that I know are in demand.”

For an overview of the programme, see here: