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NZ at risk of falling behind global tech boom

Auckland – The major consumer of digital skills, the tech sector, is growing rapidly and generating thousands of new roles a year in an exciting new digital economy, but NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller has questioned if New Zealand will fall behind other developed nations who are also struggling for skills.

He was commenting today on the digital skills report recently released by the New Zealand Digital Skills Forum, which is a collaborative group of leading tech industry and government agencies working together to address digital skills shortages.

Every sector of the economy is becoming more digital, driving demand for the digitally skilled. Salaries are high, job advertisements are plentiful and other mature economies have indicated a digital skills shortage, Muller says.

“Almost every developed nation has identified that the growing demand for people with digital skills is outpacing the ability for the traditional education systems to develop them.

“In this year’s chief information officer (CIO) survey of the largest firms in the United Kingdom, the CIO’s reported skills shortages as the number one challenge they are facing.

“The Obama White House predicted that by 2020, there would be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available in the United States and only about 400,000 computer science graduates with the necessary skills to apply.

“Canada is facing tech skills shortages and considering its education system, wondering why there aren’t enough qualified ICT workers being produced. Canada’s digital economy currently employs 877,470 professionals spread throughout all sectors the economy.

“The Australian digital sector has added 40,000 jobs to its economy in the last two years and will be worth $139 billion a year by 2020, but its growth is being impeded by a worsening skills shortage according to a recent study.”

Muller says while multiple initiatives to help address New Zealand skills shortage have failed to gain the necessary traction to make an impact, it is crucial that Kiwis continue to address the challenge.

“Digital and ICT roles are some of the highest paid jobs in New Zealand with the national median base salary for ICT employees now at $82,000. Tech employees also receive excellent benefits with 41 percent having flexible working hours, 27 percent a phone allowance, 25 percent paid training, 23 percent healthcare and 22 percent are eligible for bonuses.”

“The tech sector accounts for approximately eight percent of the country’s GDP and nine percent of the exports. The top 200 tech exporters sold NZ$7.3 billion internationally in 2016, an increase of 8.5 percent.

“In the past year, the revenues of these fast growing, top 200 tech exporters, exceeded NZ$10 billion, a growth of 7.9 percent from the previous year. This Digital Skills report should help young New Zealanders better understand exactly what skills are needed so we can keep growing this critical part of the economy” he says.

For further information contact  Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

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