case study: AMES Training and
Resource Centre Ltd.
Microsoft Certifications at the Core of Successful
New Zealand IT Skills Training Program
W hen it began in New Zealand in 1992, the Aotearoa Mature
Employment Service Trust (AMES) had a relatively simple goal: to help
a handful of senior executives who were made redundant find new
jobs. Since then, AMES—now known as AMES Training and Resource Centre—has
dramatically evolved along with New Zealand’s job market. AMES now trains
about 500 students annually—from ages 16 to 65—to meet the needs of the
modern workplace, using its unique certification curriculum built around teaching
tools and certification programs offered through the Microsoft® IT Academy
For a small, agriculture-based country like New Zealand, the emergence of Asian
neighbors China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as powerhouses in the global informa-
tion and communications technology (ICT) sector created both an opportunity
and a challenge. According to a 2003 report by a government-sponsored task
force on the future of New Zealand’s ICT industry, the island nation already had
some niche successes in the technology arena—“small by global standards but
significant by ours.” But breaking out as a full player in the global ICT market,
the task force said, would require renewed national focus and effort.
“It is about getting in front and staying there,” the task force declared.
One imperative was to expand New Zealand’s pool of ICT-trained workers. To
meet the goal of doubling its ICT industry’s contribution to the country’s gross
domestic product by 2012, New Zealand would need to triple the number of
people in the workforce trained in ICT skills, the report said.
A key barrier to attaining that goal was the limited number of training programs
teaching the advanced technology skills needed by employers. In the dynamic
ICT field, New Zealand companies seeking to make the transition from local en-
trepreneur to global supplier needed workers with