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Now and EIT team up to boost local employment

October 29, 2014
NOW chief executive Hamish White (left) and EIT chief executive Chris Collins inspect the hardware used by the Hawke’s Bay-based telecommunications company.

NOW chief executive Hamish White (left) and EIT chief executive Chris Collins inspect the hardware used by the Hawke’s Bay-based telecommunications company.

Locally-owned fixed line telecommunications company NOW and EIT’s School of Computing are partnering up to open more doors for students and graduates wanting to work in the region.

Head of School Dr Steve Corich says the relationship, encompassing cadetships, software development opportunities for students, postgraduate research projects and job opportunities with the company, is a win-win for both partners.

“We gain credibility by showing up front that we work closely with industry and NOW gains access to our high calibre graduates.”

Established in 2002 and based in Napier, NOW has achieved rapid growth in Hawke’s Bay over the last three years.  The company has 25 percent of the business and 20 percent of the region’s residential market share – a gain it attributes to its rapid response to the rollout of fibre (UFB) and a strongly service-led business culture.

Recently-opened offices in the Bay of Plenty and Wellington are the first of 10 planned satellite offices that, combined, are aimed at establishing a commanding presence in the central and lower North Island.

However, chief executive Hamish White says being headquartered in Hawke’s Bay has its challenges, with no other telecommunication or like companies located in the region to provide an experienced recruitment pool.

“It’s in this context that NOW has been working with EIT to shore up the future talent pool.  The company is currently recruiting one new person every four weeks and is forecast to continue to do so for the next two years.”

With a total staff of 32 plus 12 contractors, NOW currently employs six EIT graduates including several with Bachelor of Computing Systems degrees.  Another employee is studying at EIT and two students start internships at the company in February.

Dr Corich says that over the last 18 months NOW has been offering degree students internship opportunities with a view to permanent appointments.

“That has now evolved into a formal agreement.”

The cadetships will cover second and third-year fees for Bachelor of Computing Systems students, provide holiday work and offer internship opportunities with the prospect of employment at NOW.

Information technology lecturer Dr Paul Dechering is exploring opportunities for students to work with the company on software development as part of their programming studies.

Next year, NOW will be talking to Postgraduate Diploma in Information Technology students about possible areas for research projects which they undertake in the second semester of their study programme.

To help facilitate these developments, NOW head of customer operations Pip Thompson recently joined the School of Computing’s advisory committee.

Mr White says the alliance with EIT is exciting and has strategic significance in ensuring the company is resourced with people who have relevant qualifications.

“Typically we would start a graduate on the technical side of our customer service desk and after 15-18 months look to move them onto a career path that’s more aligned to where they wish to go.  This could range from sales, marketing, software development, network engineering or such like.

“The great thing in starting them on the customer service desk is that we install a customer service ethic from day one – it doesn’t matter how far removed they eventually become from the customer, this empathy will be ingrained.”