What reports has the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment received on the growth in the number of tertiary students enrolling in engineering and ICT degrees?

Speeches
Thursday, August 18, 2016

STUART SMITH to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What reports has he received on the growth in the number of tertiary students enrolling in engineering and ICT degrees?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): Recently I received a report called What are they doing? The field of study of domestic students/learners 2008-2015, which analyses the fields of study of domestic students in the tertiary system over the last 8 years.

It shows that last year, students enrolled in engineering and related technologies at Bachelor’s level or higher reached an all-time high of over 11,500—an increase of more than 3,500 or 44 percent from 2008.

The number of students enrolled in information technology at Bachelor’s level or higher last year also grew by 33 percent since 2008 to reach just under 11,500. It is very good to see so many students engaged in areas where they are likely to head into a solid, well-paying career where demand is high and likely to continue to grow.

STUART SMITH: How is the Government encouraging more students to study STEM subjects, including engineering and ICT?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Ensuring industries have the skills that they need is a key priority of the tertiary education strategy, and this has included a strong focus on boosting the number of students studying STEM subjects.

Initiatives under way include: rebalancing tuition subsidies to more accurately reflect the cost of provision, which has encouraged universities to invest in growing places in some of these more expensive areas—also providing better and more accurate careers information is encouraging young people to choose these subjects; introducing the new ICT graduate schools, which will boost the number of ICT graduates; and introducing the ‘Make the World’ Engineering to Employment campaign to encourage more young people into a career in engineering.

Stuart Smith: Why is it important to grow the number of students studying STEM subjects such as engineering and ICT?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Graduates in STEM subjects like engineering and ICT are crucial for building a growing and high-tech 21st century economy.

In particular, New Zealand’s ICT sector is thriving, with the most recent ICT sector report showing that our services in the software industry are growing rapidly with the number of employed in the sector up around 3,000 a year and exports from the sector having grown from less than half a billion dollars in 2008 to nearly a billion dollars in 2014, which is a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent.

The sector needs skilled staff to maintain this growth, and this growth in enrolments we are seeing at our universities will help meet this need.