WelTec is pleased to bring you the first 2012 issue of our Connection magazine linking industry and our stakeholders with the latest WelTec news and achievements.
Innovation – Mission Critical to New Zealand
“Innovation is the way we grow wealth,” says Phil O’Reilly, Chief Executive of Business New Zealand. Phil addressed 60 business leaders at a breakfast hosted by WelTec Connect (the Wellington Institute of Technology’s commercial and business arm) on Thursday 3 May at its main trades and technology campus in Petone.
Phil commented on the small size of the New Zealand economy and how business and polytechnics can work better to maximise innovation thereby creating capital. “We need to do everything well – it’s not all about ‘high value jobs’. In New Zealand we have a long history of successful business. We’re good at finding solutions and when we solve a problem we tend to solve it for the benefit of everyone. The key is not to replicate what others are doing, but to apply our own unique approach and make the most of our intellectual property.”
Phil outlined his views on the Innovation Ecosystem which has three key elements - it’s business centred, its New Zealand-wide, and it makes the most of the establishment of Industrial Research Limited as an Advanced Technology Institute (a recommendation from the Powering Innovation Report). “It’s about technology and where every idea gets the best opportunity to go to market. Our economy is too small. Why waste time getting scientists to compete for funding when there are only one or two world-class teams in New Zealand? Give them the money and let them get on with science and innovating.”
Speaking on New Zealand’s approach to business, Phil challenged the audience to think about New Zealand’s strengths – our incredibly diverse population (which means we think differently about everyday problems), our small population which means the ‘knowledge elites’ can get together easily and New Zealand being the easiest place in the world to start a business. On the negative side he noted our distance away from markets, our attitude that we should be able to create everything here rather than maximising international connections, our lack of scale, and lack of capital.
On the role of polytechnics in the Innovation Ecosystem, Phil congratulated WelTec on the things that it is doing in Wellington and the Hutt Valley. He noted that WelTec is very adept at playing in the real world. “Polytechnics are a safe place for business. Polytechnics are local and can take science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM subjects) to a more practical place. They can help business get strategic and lead innovation.”
Phil commented that there was a lot more work to do to encourage young people to be innovative. “School to tertiary pathways, particularly into polytechnics are not well understood. I support the announcements this week on the government reprioritising funding for STEM subjects. The line between schools and tertiary education should be blurred so that young people can focus on learning, not on what type of institution they are attending.”
WelTec Connect and Venture Solutions Partnership a Win-Win.
Dreams could become reality for inventors and entrepreneurs, thanks to a new partnership between WelTec’s commercial and business arm, WelTec Connect, and Wellington firm Venture Solutions (NZ) Ltd.
The partnership was announced at the WelTec Connect Business Breakfast.
Venture Solutions’ Grant Marris agrees, saying the collaboration between his firm, WelTec Connect and inventors will mean more products are successfully taken to market.
“We see a lot of people with really good ideas and good products, but they’re not the right people to take it to market, which makes it hard to attract any investment.
“If development of their product can be done, and we discover a real market for it, then we can help turn their dreams into reality, and they won’t need half a million upfront to make it happen.”
The way in which the partnership will work goes like this: VSL will identify early stage products that may have market potential, undertake a rigorous validation process then WelTec’s research and development team of staff and students is called in to develop a prototype or tweak an existing product to ready it for market, all in collaboration with the inventor.
VSL then takes the product to market, with WelTec and VSL both earning royalties from sales.
The partnership is already underway, with WelTec Connect readying two products, the Youbike and the Coffee Catcha, for which WelTec Connect is developing a prototype.
As Tim says projects such as the Youbike and Coffee Catcha are a classic win-win situation for all parties involved.
“Often someone has an idea in their head, they want to develop a product but don’t know what the market actually wants.
“That’s where VSL and WelTec Connect come in, we pool our resources so that we have both design and marketing skills that will give an idea a much higher chance of success, we can help inventors succeed commercially.”
2011 was the first full year of operation for WelTec’s subsidiary, WelTec Connect Ltd (WCL). As both an investment holding company and a commercial services provider, WCL gives WelTec the opportunity to diversify its revenue. WCL services are primarily research and development and business capability development services for local industry.
WelTec Connect already has 82 companies as clients and contract revenue is growing. Highlights of the year for WelTec Connect included the establishment of a technology alliance with the New Zealand arm of the global multinational NEC Corporation for collaboration on technology research and development and commercial applications. The relationship with NEC includes funding for an applied research fellowship and a student cadetship.
WCL is actively involved in developing new technologies such as blended fuels and ultra-high pressure low-volume water jetting. In 2011 it was the research and development partner for five successful Ministry of Science and Innovation
As well as helping WelTec build even stronger relationships with industry, other benefits include student research awards, guest lectures by industry technology specialists, industry-led student projects and new cadetships.
Annual Report Highlights
We are pleased to refer stakeholders to our 2011 Annual Report. The report outlines many highlights from the year including student success, relationships with industry and our emerging capability on R&D.
As well as providing information about our performance in 2011 we invited five Wellingtonians to outline their vision for their industry and the Wellington region. These are included in the Annual Report. In addition we highlighted the work of three staff members who excel in IT, creative technologies and hospitality research.
Student Achievement Strong in 2011
We are very pleased to report that WelTec exceeded the Government’s four key education performance indicator targets
Employers Give WelTec the Tick
The 2011 Employer Satisfaction survey results showed that Wellington employers continue to be very positive about the training and education provided by WelTec. WelTec’s training continues to be seen as relevant by employers with 96% saying they were very satisfied or satisfied with the relevance of our qualifications.
The majority of employers surveyed viewed WelTec’s qualifications as relevant to their needs with graduates considered work ready. Employers commented that the strength of the relationship with staff has a major influence on how they view WelTec and encourages their involvement in WelTec’s programmes. The continued uncertainty of both the international and national economic climate continues to impact on employers, influencing their decisions to take on new graduates and apprentices. Countering this is the view of employers who consistently endorse the value of having work experience components in programmes. This has a positive impact on employment opportunities.
School of Information Technology – Responding to Industry
WelTec prides itself on delivering training that is relevant to industry. “That’s how it is and we wouldn’t be here without our IT businesses,” says Ian Hunter, Head of IT at WelTec. Ian heads up a School which currently has over 600 students studying from level 4 certificate programmes through to Graduate Diplomas at level 7.
“Demand for our IT programmes is high and that’s the way we like it. It shows that students are getting the message that a WelTec qualification will set you up with the right skills to be well-placed to successfully enter the job market. We have a culture of students undertaking work experience while they study and this has big benefits for the students and employers. Employers even lecture on our programmes from time to time, which motivates them and sparks an even greater interest in the students about what is being taught."
Recently the School took elements of its Graduate Diploma in Information Assurance and Security and packaged them into a one day programme for a major IT employer, Datacom. This was in response to an approach Datacom made to WelTec for security training for its IT staff working in the area. A WelTec tutor spent the day with Datacom at their premises delivering the programme to 16 key staff. This approach is indicative of the way in which WelTec seeks to deliver what employers want and need.
“There are other projects in the pipeline now as a result of doing this. It’s an exciting opportunity for WelTec and we’re always looking at new ways of working with business,” says Ian.
WelTec Students Excel in the Grow Wellington - Summer of Tech Initiative
When Jody Bullen of Yonix took on WelTec students Ian Somerville and Samuel Haktka as interns through the Summer of Tech scheme, he got a lot more than he bargained for.
Mr Bullen was apprehensive about using interns but because he likes to promote local talent and because there’s the opportunity of getting projects done that had possibly been on the backburner, he saw good synergies in the scheme.
“There’s an investment you put into people, especially when they’re only coming in for a couple of weeks. And finding a self-managing task they can work on is not easy,” Mr Bullen says.
In this case, though, far from being a backburner job, the students ended up doing something that is critical to the Yonix product.
Bachelor of IT students Ian Somerville and Samuel Haktka both knew this was a great opportunity and made the most of it. “We were put into Yonix and assigned to the same task,” says Ian. “There was a lot of research and bringing things together and making sure they worked. The language we worked with at Yonix was C Sharp. We’d covered Java and C++ in our course but it wasn't too difficult making the step to C Sharp.”
For 20-year-old Samuel Haktka the internship convinced him that he had chosen the right course. “I’ve told everyone since working with Yonix that it proved to me I’m studying the right thing, career wise. It was great to experience in the real world at Yonix what I’m studying towards at WelTec. If I get the opportunity to do it again I’ll gladly do it,” Sam says.
Summer of Tech, an internship scheme through Grow Wellington, provides an opportunity for students to be introduced to start-up businesses or businesses requiring additional assistance over the summer break.
“It’s an opportunity for us to expose our students to the rest of the world while at the same time assisting companies with student labour for their projects,” says WelTec head of School of IT Ian Hunter.
“Initially I asked Ian and Sam for a prototype, that’s what I was expecting out of the two weeks. A very rough prototype that shows we can do a task, how easy is it going to be to do, and that gives some idea on scope and timing for a larger project. They had a working prototype done in just three days,” Jody says with delight.
Impressed with what the two had produced Mr Bullen moved them into a more serious role. “We gave them both a task that was a critical area for our business and a strategic leap forward for us if we could offer it. We were stoked with the students’ output. The students were a credit to WelTec. They worked really hard, delivered good work and delivered us some really big business value.”
So stoked was Jody Bullen and so impressed with the students’ work that he has taken Ian Somerville on for the entire summer under an internship scheme with the Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Jody is hoping that by the time Ian has finished his degree, Yonix will be in a position to be able to take him on full time.
Clement Sudhakar, WelTec’s go to staffer for business looking for students for work placement, work experience or a cadetship, says 2012 has seen a big upsurge in the number of enquiries from business who want keen people who wish to work in industry while they are studying.
“With WelTec’s involvement in Skills for Canterbury we have been offering additional programmes in the construction trades. This has seen a lot of interest for carpentry cadetships in 2012. We have identified companies and potential employers who could take our carpentry students as cadets. An invitation has gone out to employers and if you are keen to pick this up please get in touch,” says Clement.
With the WelTec School of Hospitality move into Wellington later in the year, providing further opportunities for students wanting work experience or cadetships will be a high priority for Clement.
Engineering and IT are two other key industries that are very involved in cadetships. Clement is keen to see this expand across the Wellington region providing students with even more opportunities. “Industry sees the advantage of working with us. It enriches the learning experience of students, giving them an insight to the world of work. Employers benefit by having students on site. WelTec students have fresh ideas and are keen to learn and participate. We spend time with the students making sure they are prepared to enter the workplace and we can see that employers are benefitting due to the increased number of requests.”
The WelTec website has a space dedicated to the work that Clement is doing with industry and the services we offer.
WelTec School of Hospitality on track to move into new premises
The WelTec School of Hospitality is on track to move its premises into the new facility in the centre of Wellington in October 2012. The existing campuses for Hospitality programmes currently offered in Petone and Church Street will move their operations over progressively from September this year.
Staff Excel at WelTec
The Australian Institute of Embalming PTY Ltd (AIE) Scholarship is an annual competition and is awarded to the applicant who, in the opinion of the AIE Board, successfully completes the best assignment on a topic announced by the AIE Board. The winner receives complimentary registration for attendance at the AIE Conference plus return economy airfares from the winner's nearest capital city, and three night’s accommodation. The AIE Scholarship is open to all members including those residing overseas.
The winner of the 2012 AIE Scholarship was Cameron Moray-Smith, Programme Manager for WelTec's Funeral Services qualifications.
Julia Hennessy, Executive Dean – Faculty of Health, Business and Services Industries says, “This tribute of Cameron’s academic work adds to the recognition that Cameron received from WelTec earlier this year when he was recognised for his excellence in teaching by receiving the 2012 Teaching Award. Cameron has consistently looked at ways to improve the quality of his teaching and to ensure the academic rigour of the programme. WelTec was delighted that AIE have acknowledged Cameron’s contribution to the ongoing development of the embalming profession.”
A copy of Cameron's winning essay can be found in the Member's Lounge on the AIE website.
Pasifika Trades Scholarship
Aleki Silao, from the Pasifika Centre, says the 38 Pasifika students who are recipients of a government scholarship, have settled in well to their studies at WelTec. The students, who started at WelTec in February this year, are studying in a range of construction industry programmes including carpentry, painting, plumbing, brick and blocklaying and landscape construction. The students are supported by WelTec’s Pasifika Centre, their families and Churches. The students are in a one year training programme and will graduate onto further study or move into employment at the end of 2012.
Increasing Success for Pasifika Learners
Since 2002 the Government has produced three tertiary education strategies. Each has included directions for tertiary institutions to promote educational achievement for Pasifika students. In 2011 Ako Aotearoa, the national centre charged with increasing the effectiveness of tertiary teaching and learning practices, commissioned WelTec to research the impact of these Government strategies.
The WelTec research team was led by Dr John Horrocks, and included Aleki Silao, the manager of WelTec’s Pasifika Centre; Kerese Manueli, a WelTec tutor who has recently completed a PhD at Victoria University on Pasifika learners at Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics, Neil Ballantyne, a highly experienced social researcher and Penny Fairbrother, WelTec’s research and contracts officer. Members of an advisory group, brought together for the project, were important contributors. The group included Tupu Araiti (Cook Islands), Aiono Mino Cleverly (Samoa), Vei Lotaki (Tonga), and Filipo Lui (Tokelau).
John says the project began with a historical policy analysis of the Government’s tertiary strategies and previous work on their impact on Pasifika students and tertiary institutions. The research itself was in two parts; the first was an examination of how tertiary institutions had responded to the Government’s directions. This was done by reviewing annual reports to see whether they included evidence that the institutions had assessed performance in key areas that might affect Pasifika students.
“For example, the first strategy in 2002 called for more Pasifika staff at all levels. Reporting failures meant there was no pressure on institutions to improve this key area. The second strategy from 2007 sought improved completion rates for Pasifika students, but completion was defined differently in different institutions,” says John.
Part two of the research involved intensive interviews with staff of the tertiary institutions who agreed to participate by Pasifika members of the team and were very positive. They found that encouraging things were happening in many places and most of the people they talked to felt that the recognition by Government of the importance of Pasifika education had helped to push forward institutional change.
“We did discover that the institutions where Pasifika interests and outcomes have really taken an upturn are those where there are Pasifika staff in senior positions.”
Ako Aotearoa plans to issue the full report and this will be posted to the WelTec website.
Connection is WelTec's Newsletter to key stakeholders.