New pilot encourages digital tech pathways

Alexia Hilbertidou with the Queen receiving her Queen's Young Leaders award at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Supplied.

NZTech is launching Tech21, a programme of activity and events in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to help inspire young learners into tech careers.


Graeme Muller, chief executive of NZTech, says recent research published in the digital skills report found a decreasing number of students taking courses that will prepare them for an opportunity to work in the many new and exciting tech careers within the burgeoning tech sector.


“The Tech21 initiative will help expose some of the many exciting opportunities available for the next generation in tech roles across the economy,” says Graeme.


“The students will hear from young successful role models so that hopefully they will see themselves as a tech entrepreneur or working in a cool tech job when they leave school.”


Tech21 will begin with a summit in Auckland on May 24 featuring high profile New Zealand tech leaders including Auckland’s digital disruptor, Augmented Reality Applications – ARA - founder Amber Taylor, social entrepreneur Shay Wright and @girlbossnz founder and NZ tech businesswoman Alexia Hilbertidou.


Alexia's GirlBossNZ group has become New Zealand’s largest organisation for young women. In just five years, GirlBoss has grown to 13,500 members and programmes have been implemented in more than 100 schools across New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands.


Its mission is to get young women to the tech boardroom table. Alexia has spoken at some of the world's largest conferences such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women and One Young World; sharing stages with speakers such as Richard Branson, Meghan Markle and JK Rowling.


She has already received over 30 awards for her work including being named the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award winner.


Megan Markle with Alexia Hilbertidou at Buckingham Palace before being presented a Queen's Young Leaders Award. Photo: Supplied.


Alexia has been named in the Forbes magazine 30 under 30 Asia list. Forbes released the list in April which started with 2500 nominations.


Criteria for making the list includes demonstration of leadership, impact, potential of success and the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit synonymous with Forbes.


Other factors such as innovation, disruption —as well as size and growth of their ventures in some categories — play a role in making the final decision.


GirlBoss NZ runs workshops at secondary schools to encourage young girls to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.


Alexia was inspired to start the organisation in 2015, when she was 16 years old, because she was the only girl in her digital technology class at school.

Alexia Hilbertidou. Photo: Supplied.


So far, GirlBoss New Zealand has presented at more than 100 schools across New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands.


In 2018, Alexia received a Queen's Young Leaders Award for her work encouraging young women in New Zealand to become leaders in STEM. She also received the Business and Entrepreneurship Award at the 2019 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards.


The Tech21 event will showcase tech innovation, creativity and the opportunities for technology career pathways leading into New Zealand’s fastest growing and highest paid sector.

Tech21 will focus on:

  • Why is digital tech so important?
  • What will the tech future be like?
  • How to understand why a tech career is right for a young person?
  • What is a tech career really like?
  • What career pathways are available?
  • Securing a great future with a tech career

The Tech21 summit will also launch the opening of Techweek2021, a week-long nationwide festival of innovation.

“There is a real interest and passion within the tech sector to help students find pathways into the growing tech sector,” says Graeme.

“The recent digital skills survey found that New Zealand’s tech leaders backed the creation of a digital apprenticeship programme.”

“This sort of scheme could open a door into a tech career for those that are less likely to do an IT degree.”

The survey found that there was strong support for internships to help students develop work experience and the skills that employers say are lacking in many graduates.

“There is a once in a generation opportunity here to find ways to encourage young people into a large variety of well paid, future proof jobs,” says Graeme.

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