Guest Post: Digital Skills shortages a blight of New Zealand’s tech sector

A guest post by Melissa Lee:

New Zealand’s digital economy is in a growing crisis. We simply don’t have enough workers with the skills and expertise to make our technology sector flourish like the economic powerhouse of innovation it has been as a vanguard during these tough couple of years. With closed borders, the lottery of misery in MIQ (a lottery that may extend well into next year if the Government rescinds it’s border opening plans..) and a lack of a clear direction for high quality digital sector learning and professional development in New Zealand, we are facing a deep problem for the future of New Zealand’s economy.

The Government this week announced 600 spaces for critical tech workers to be allowed into New Zealand. That sounds great but was based on the premise that the borders will be open at the time they are recruited. If they remain closed the MIQ lottery of misery stems its ugly head and it will be countless months for those roles to be filled. What’s worse is it’s only 600 roles when 3000 is probably too few for the uplift in capability to put the next stage of advancement into the Kiwi digital economy. A quick look on seek this week showed nearly 2800 jobs being advertised for the Information and Communications Technology sector. 600 overseas recruits won’t cut it and neither will employing under-skilled local New Zealanders regardless of the salary offered because they lack the years and on the job expertise needed to do the job. We don’t want the next Waikato DHB Cybersecurity incident, Reserve Bank Data Breach or Fisher and Paykel Ransomware attack to happen because our government and our companies could not keep their data safe, one of the most critical issues facing New Zealand with the digital worker shortages domestically and at the border. Not having the people on hand to keep our cyber borders safe and not having trained staff well versed in a variety of technological trades to protect Kiwi businesses is a blight on our tech sector.

New Zealand needs to invest in digital careers today and we also need to invest in getting offshore talent here as soon as possible. It is vital for the future of our tech sector and our digital economy. We must have a cyber-resilient nation and our economy must have the tools it needs to continue to grow our digital sector as we look ahead to 2022 and beyond.

National cares deeply about the future of New Zealand’s Digital economy and it is my priority as National’s Spokesperson to champion every aspect of the Digital sector in our economy. I am proud that National was the only party to have a policy in 2020 that focused on a strong technology platform and we are still advocating for innovative policies for the digital economy in our tech issues paper released a few weeks ago. If you have ideas to resolve New Zealand’s digital crisis get in touch with me and the National team. We want to hear your views and build the best possible policy platform as we prepare to return to Government in 2023.

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