Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand, has recently introduced a course in Construction Project Management. A graduate course, this one-year programme is a focused and intensive project management course that will help engineering graduates enhance their knowledge, understanding and ability to apply their engineering skills.

David Nummy, Associate Dean: Strategic Development, Faculty of Technology and Built Environment, Unitec Institute of Technology, answers a few queries.

How can students benefit under this programme?

The programme specifically aims to enhance the knowledge, understanding and ability of young engineering graduates, so that these already qualified people can work more effectively for construction organisations in a variety of significant project roles in construction management. By undertaking the programme, students will strengthen their employability and employment prospects in an industry which values highly the ability to apply knowledge in a practical context.

Why are you looking at Indian students?

The India-New Zealand Education Council Co-operative Initiative signed in June 2011 by both Prime Ministers seeks to build “international education” capability on both sides and recognises the benefit that higher education exchange between both countries can bring.

Unitec is a large, well-established provider of applied professional and technical education in New Zealand. Unitec also values the richness that diversity brings to any institution and already has experience with a large international student body. We are seeking to offer and extend our capability to Indian students, in an area where we have considerable expertise, in a very targeted programme that is highly applicable to the needs of the construction industry

As part of the course what will they learn and what are the job opportunities?

The programme totals eight modules (courses) of learning with core courses in project management principles and practice. The programme also has a very strong emphasis on construction management as it is applied in planning, scheduling and the implementation of construction projects. Building design and business management and how these activities are integral to construction are also evaluated as well as property development and finance that underpins construction projects.

People with construction project management skills are in short supply and in high demand internationally. The Indian context matches, or possibly exceeds this international short supply-high demand situation and it is a focus of the Indian Construction Skill Development Council. Our understanding of the Indian construction market is that qualified people with the ability to apply their knowledge and implement solutions for construction challenges will be highly sought after.

How important is an internship before taking up a job?

The Unitec programme does not contain an internship. However, course assessment is focussed on construction project-based problems and emphasises the development of problem evaluation skills and an ability in the student to generate solutions for unfamiliar and sometimes complex construction problems. The programme is set at a graduate diploma level and programme assessment is rigorous and additionally is evaluated by industry experts. We are confident, and our experience tells us, that students will graduate with skills that they can apply immediately in the workplace.

What’s the scope for this course today?

The scope of this programme is such that it equips students with the necessary construction project management knowledge together with a well-grounded understanding of practical problems and practical application of that knowledge. This will enable them to “hit the ground running” and allow them to differentiate themselves from others, with the opportunity to become effective construction site managers and with meaningful industry experience senior construction managers and project managers.

How should students apply and what are the aids available for them?

Students can apply to Unitec either through a registered Unitec agent (www.agents.unitec.ac.nz) or directly by applying online (https://webenrol.unitec.ac.nz/Registration/Online_Application.htm). Assistance and guidance is available before and during the application process through the dedicated Unitec International Office by email and also through our social media sites. Students are guided throughout the process and once they reach Unitec, specialised departmental and international orientation programmes are conducted, so that students will be made aware of the very comprehensive range of academic and other support systems which are available at Unitec.

How will studying in New Zealand be different from studying elsewhere?

Qualifications form New Zealand are regarded highly internationally, and our programmes are designed to maintain this reputation and standing. Global best practice in teaching and learning is our minimum standard. Unitec Institute of Technology is a NZ Government institution with a focus on the delivery of high-quality applied professional and vocational qualifications, with industry and employers having strong input into the design of our qualifications to ensure the employability of graduates. New Zealand is a small country, smaller than many others that Indian students study in and has the advantage of offering stay-back options for students.

New Zealand offers students the chance to stay back after graduation, to gain work experience relating to their study area. Some students, in the space of a few years, may also apply for residency if they wish to make a permanent move to New Zealand.