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Programming Contest showcases skills in demand


1 August 2008

The New Zealand Programming Contest showcases skills in high demand

Saturday August 9th will see programmers from around New Zealand undertake a gruelling five hour contest, testing their problem solving abilities and programming language proficiency in C, C++, Java and Pascal.

Teams of three will compete in one of five categories: School, Tertiary-Junior, Tertiary-Intermediate, Tertiary-Open and Open. The categories cover a range of skill levels from secondary school students to professional programmers proficient in multiple programming languages.

The competition is set to take place simultaneously in six locations across New Zealand; Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Invercargill and Wellington.

This year’s Wellington programming contest will be hosted by Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec). Wellington contest organiser and Programme Manager (IT) at WelTec, Robert Sutcliffe, explains “the contest is about taking a problem and under time pressure, producing a successful solution. The competitors get a kick out of it, a real adrenalin buzz, and we feed them throughout the day to keep them going.”

Teams from Wellington High School first competed in the event in 2004, and have entered at least one team every year subsequent. Wellington High, information science teacher, Vincent Brannigan, believes students’ motivation to compete is fuelled by the opportunity to test their skills against others; “when I ask students why they take part, they often say ‘It's something to do’ in the usual teenage manner but they really are keen to challenge themselves and see how they stack up against their peers and tertiary students”.

Brannigan also praises the hosting of the event “the facilities and staff are great at WelTec. My students and I really appreciate the time and effort WelTec puts into facilitating this event”.

According to Robert Sutcliffe, demand for professionals with practical programming skills is both high and increasing due to “a shortfall of experienced programmers within the industry.”

“Programming theory has its place, but there is a real need for programmers trained in the commercial toolsets relevant to the industry” states Sutcliffe.

Recent Hays salary figures for programmers in the Wellington region put the salary range from $54,000 at entry level positions to $114,000 received by programming architects. “Programming has changed” says Mr Sutcliffe, “programming and information technology in general are now a key service industry. The old idea of programming as ‘sitting in the dark, drinking coffee and talking to a computer all day’ doesn’t really exist anymore.”

For more information on WelTec’s Information Technology programmes, please contact WelTec on 0800 WelTec (935 928) or visit


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