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Te Pūkenga and AWS help Māori and Pasifika learners land tech roles at New Zealand organisations

25 August 2022 
Te Pūkenga and Amazon Web Services (AWS) celebrated the graduation of New Zealand’s tech professionals from the AWS re/Start program.

AWS re/Start is a free, 12-week, entry-level cloud skills program that launched in New Zealand in March 2021. It prepares unemployed, underemployed, and transitioning learners for exciting and vital careers in cloud computing, including those from Māori and Pasifika communities. AWS collaborates with Te Pūkenga, the country’s largest tertiary education provider, and Unitec, the Auckland-based subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, to deliver the program locally.  

A recent study conducted by AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS found that one million more New Zealand workers will require digital skills training for their jobs in the next year – that’s 35% of the workforce. Cloud and cybersecurity skills are projected to be the top two most in-demand digital skills by Kiwi employers by 2025, yet the study found less than one third of organisations have training plans in place. Meanwhile, 67% of Kiwi workers surveyed felt they will require training in cloud-related skills by 2025 to progress their careers.

Globally, AWS re/Start connects more than 90% of graduates with job opportunities. In New Zealand, local companies and organisations across the public sector have signed up to provide internships and employment to graduating AWS re/Start students. They include, Auckland Council, Datacom, First Table, Foundry, KiwiRail, NEXTGEN Group, Planit Testing, Pushpay, Spark Business Group (Spark, CCL and Leaven), Vector, and WayBeyond. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) are also local collaborators.  

The AWS re/Start graduates at today’s graduation celebration have inspirational stories to tell about their pivot into technology. Thirty-two-year-old Ash Foster (Waikato Tainui) earned a computer science degree and worked in construction for several years before retraining and becoming a web developer. 
“I think the AWS program is probably the best thing that MSD has done in terms of a momentum-building program, and I immediately wanted to be part of it. You have to be accountable for your own learning, as it is the nature of our industry to be learning all the time.”

Twenty-three-year-old Alice Kokado previously worked as a developer in Tokyo, and as a programming and maths tutor in Japan and New Zealand.

“I saw it was an opportunity to learn about cloud – I know that’s the future and where the opportunity is, and the internship that is part of the program is a big deal. I’m doing it to further my skills, and I have completed the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certificate.”

Ash is now working in a specialised FinOps team at Datacom, having completed an internship there in 2021 as part of his AWS re/Start qualification, and Alice is in the middle of a three-month data engineering internship at KiwiRail.

Dr Angela Beaton, Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executive, Delivery and Academic, says, “AWS re/Start is a great example of an education provider and industry coming together, with a unique internship element which provides a globally recognised credential. The AWS re/Start program is changing people’s lives by offering new opportunities in high-demand fields. It is attracting people from all walks of life and career backgrounds, including those who have had to make a sudden shift in focus and people who may have never considered a career in technology.”

Tim Dacombe-Bird, Country Manager of Public Sector for Amazon Web Services New Zealand, says, “AWS re/Start is helping close New Zealand’s skills gap by helping Kiwis to launch successful cloud careers, organisations to increase their competitive edge, and communities - especially Māori and Pasifika - to thrive and grow. We are proud to be working with Te Pūkenga and Unitec to build New Zealand’s cloud workforce of the future and enable organisations to accelerate their innovation with AWS.”

AWS re/Start is a global program across 50 countries and is part of Amazon’s commitment to provide free public cloud computing skills training to 29 million people around the world by 2025. Since launching in Aotearoa, it has produced graduates from Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Hawkes Bay, Queenstown and Wellington. Today’s graduation ceremony included a pōwhiri at the Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae on Unitec’s Auckland campus.


About Unitec Institute of Technology
Unitec Institute of Technology (Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka) is a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga and is one of the largest institutes of technology in New Zealand. It offers a wide range of programs and short courses, from certificate to postgraduate degree level (levels 1 to 9) across a number of disciplines from Architecture to Zookeeping.

It also houses several research centres, including Ngā Wai a Te Tūī (Māori and Indigenous Research Centre), the Environmental Solutions Research Centre, Cybersecurity Research and Applied Molecular Solutions.

The main campus is situated in Mt Albert, and Waitākere campus in Henderson. 

About Te Pūkenga
Te Pūkenga was established to better meet the needs of learners and employers by bringing together on-job, on-campus and online learning across Aotearoa New Zealand. By 1 January 2023, Te Pūkenga will create a unified, sustainable public network of regionally accessible vocational and applied learning.  Unitec and Ara Institute of Canterbury are part of Te Pūkenga.  

For more information:
Jemma Crook
Alexander PR