Finding skilled roles for Pacific graduates a priority for New Zealand’s MBIE

Getting more Pacific graduates into highly skilled roles is a priority for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and a major reason why it participates in Pacific Cooperation Foundation’s (PCF) Summer Internship initiative.

Senior Data Geologist (New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals) at MBIE Ian Dalla-Torre says the Geoscience Information team would commonly look for an intern to complete/assist with a specific piece of project work related to their geoscience information.

“Generally this would be a student from a New Zealand university however, in 2016 we received an inquiry regarding the possibility of hosting a PCF Summer Internship,” Ian explains.

The opportunity was discussed and a decision made to invite an intern for the 2016/2017 summer, as it was thought the experience gained should benefit the team, intern and PCF, he adds.

Maria Guterres from Victoria University joined the Geoscience Information team in 2016/2017, and this year, it is hosting two NZ Pacific Scholarship students selected for the Summer Internship - Ricardo Williams and Ebony-Jean Taavila.

Ricardo is at Massey University studying a Bachelor of Science (Earth Science), while Ebony, from Samoa, attends the University of Canterbury and is studying a Bachelor of Science (Geography).

Hosting summer interns is a win-win situation for the host and intern with both parties benefiting from the experience, Ian says.

“The Geoscience Information team specifically benefits by having work completed or progressed that may otherwise not be touched due to the pressures of on-going business-as-usual activity.

“MBIE benefits from this direct international cultural interaction and later by the ties, good-will and trade that can be developed with other countries in the Pacific region.”

As the Geoscience Information team looks for their interns to be pro-active about doing the work required, it informs the intern about basic work practice, collaboration and meeting timelines, Ian says.

“In addition, the intern will benefit from team, branch and group meetings and time spent with other teams to assist understanding of the work of other departments.

“This understanding helps to build knowledge of how MBIE collaborates and ultimately illustrates how government works behind the public face of our ministers.”

Along with being pro-active, Ian says interns are expected to come in with a solid work ethic in order to progress the programmes, and also a willingness to ask questions and gain an understanding of MBIE.

“MBIE, formed in 2012, is a very large organisation with more than 3000 employees and plays a central role in shaping and delivering a strong NZ economy and while the Geoscience Information team is small, as stewards of NZ’s geoscience information, the team is an important enabler of the petroleum and minerals exploration industry.”

Within this secure workplace, interns are encouraged to provide some feedback on their country of origin, Ian adds.

This helps enhance the team’s cultural experience and understanding of where the interns are from and what drives them.

After two years of hosting Summer Interns, Ian says he highly recommends an organisation taking part in the Summer Internship programme.

“The experience benefits the intern by providing a short-term real-world business experience to go with their academic studies, and our business benefits at the same time because other employees are freed up to progress work streams that may otherwise not be touched.

“This programme also facilitates greater cultural understanding of our Pacific region neighbours leading to potentially closer ties and increased collaboration as these interns enter full-time employment.”

Ricardo and Ebony will finish their 10-week internship with MBIE on February 16, 2018.

Once they have completed their studies, they will return to their home country to which they are bonded for two years.