Ahead of the general election in next month, The Tech Users Association (TUANZ) has called on whoever makes up the next Government to deal with Aotearoa New Zealand's tech industry skills shortage by developing pathways to attract diverse talent.
According to TUANZs Digital Priorities 2023 report, digital leaders in Aotearoa are concerned about their access to talent, the skills gap, staffing churn, and attracting more talent to support IT project demand and/or growth, and consider it one of the biggest challenges facing their organisation this year.
"Although the tap of offshore labour has been turned back on, the number of returning Kiwis and skilled migrants is not as high as anticipated," TUANZ CEO Craig Young says.
"Additionally, despite large tech layoffs in the industry across the globe we have yet to see this turn into an opportunity for the New Zealand tech industry," he says.
"When combined with our low numbers of New Zealanders studying tech, we are scrambling for people with digital skills. It is well documented that we continue to see low rates of representation of Māori and Pasifika in our digital workforce.
"While there are a number of initiatives in the pipeline or underway to grow our local talent, including the Technology Industry Transformation Plan (the ITP), we are yet to see the benefits and more must be done to support the right institutions and to encourage people into study and careers in the sector.
Young says TUANZ would like to see the development of a more comprehensive and holistic approach that combines talent attraction from offshore, education and skill development in Aotearoa, industry collaboration through the ITP, and targeted support for specific areas of the tech sector.
TUANZ has put forward the following recommendations to Government:
Simplify and expedite visa application processes for skilled migrants in all tech, and supporting sector roles.
Work to support and develop programmes that encourage more Māori, Pasifika and Wahine into tech education and roles.
Develop with industry and education institutions internships and digital apprenticeship schemes.
The Tech Users Association of New Zealand has been representing users of communications and digital technology for more than 35 years.
Its vision is that by 2033, all individuals and businesses in New Zealand will have unrestricted access to the technology and services they need to thrive; no one misses out on the opportunities available to them in the digital technology world; and digital engagement is safe and inclusive for all New Zealanders.
"We are the independent voice of our members and all users in a complex digital world. We know that access to technology is key to digital business and force for social good and we are here to help our members make sense of the digital future," the organisation says.
"We are a powerful channel to decision-makers and developing leaders in this sector. We have a highly engaged community of over 1,400 individuals working in our member organisations in roles that use or are responsible for digital technology."