Green, techno and traditional science in New Zealand

Science is a diverse subject area and New Zealand offers the chance to study in many of the different areas available, from traditional to techno sciences.

New Zealand is currently seeing a boom in the demand for science-related graduates for positions and careers in businesses, government organisations, industry and medical-related fields.

Many of the universities in New Zealand are well known for their expertise in biotechnology, engineering, health sciences and many applied sciences, as well as interdisciplinary studies such as combinations of geography and biology (e.g. Antarctic Studies). The knowledge gained from science subjects for most students is used directly in their future careers. However, many students also take science subjects to expand their general knowledge and skills.

The ‘clean-green’ image of New Zealand is protected by legislation, but more than that, businesses are very keen to develop environmentally friendly practices and are employing people with academic backgrounds in environmental sciences and ecology to help them with this.

Combining eco-friendly practices with effective use of resources, such as water or energy, will set aside companies of the future. Therefore graduates who have knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science, as it relates to the sustainability and minimisation of resource use, will be in even higher demand in the future.

microscope and plants biology

“Combinations of science subjects with mathematics are leading to new careers”

The Canterbury region of New Zealand has a number of ‘techno’ companies who work with universities and research institutes to develop cutting-edge biotechnological advances and electro-technological inventions. Graduates who have applied knowledge of science and technology are highly sought after. Several universities also offer specialist programmes in engineering (civil, electrical, mechanical and chemical).

These graduates move into companies who develop infrastructure, towns, cities and public services such as water and sewage management. Many engineers also design new products or processes that are used in medicine, bioengineering of chemicals or genetics, disposal or breakdown of products, or for agriculture and horticulture.

Science subjects at university can also lead to a wide range of other opportunities. For example, degrees in viticulture are providing graduates with the background and skills to move into the ever-increasing wine making industry. Other graduates might transfer 
their enthusiasm and love for science to a career in teaching - early childhood, primary and secondary schooling, or at universities and polytechnics.

Many New Zealand universities offer courses that emphasise traditional science knowledge and skills, since the need for these is precipitated by the demand for people in the health sciences, agricultural sciences and physics careers related to electronics.

Recently we have been faced with very different challenges, including changes in weather, the earth’s surface changes, and the need to use native plants as a bio-diverse resource for new products and cures. The demand for innovative new products, digital technologies and communication devices has led to a huge increase in the demand for people who have detailed knowledge of electronic research and development.

Combinations of science subjects with mathematics are leading to new careers, 
such as informatics. Medical-related professionals are hugely in demand all around the world (such as doctors, allied paramedics, medical technicians, nurses, dentists and veterinarians).

Associate Professor Lindsey Conner (2011)
New Zealand Association of Science Educators