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NZTech Inform – Introducing Digital Skills Aotearoa

Last night, we proudly launched our research report, Digital Skills Aotearoa – Digital Skills for our Digital Future.

The research found system wide challenges requiring urgent national attention – a lack of coordinated effort, dramatic skills challenges driving a heavy reliance on immigration and under investment in developing the existing workforce.

For the first time ever, data from our Digital Skills Survey has been aggregated across the entire digital skills pipeline, from school to tertiary education, from education to employment, from within the market and from immigration.  Overall, the story the research tells is one of opportunity.

However, the report paints a picture of lost opportunity highlighting a digital skills mismatch which is impacting on the growth of the economy.  The research clearly shows a discrepancy between what the education system provides and what the tech ecosystem needs.

For example, only 30 percent of senior secondary students took any technology subjects in 2019, representing a two percent decline year on year, for the past five years.  Only 1850 New Zealanders started an IT degree in 2019, while 3683 visas were granted that same year to help fill the 4462 new digital tech jobs created in 2019.

Meanwhile, employers are not offering enough on-job training and there is a lack of participation by women, Māori and Pasifika people in our digital tech workforce.  Every year, thousands of new digital tech jobs are created and there are jobs for everyone once we better integrate industry with education.
The success of the digital technology sector is critical for New Zealand’s future.  It is one of the fastest growing parts of the New Zealand economy, generating billions of dollars in exports and creating thousands of jobs.  The sector is also enabling the digitalisation of the rest of the economy and underpinning this are people with digital skills. 

Digital Skills Aotearoa also provides a set of detailed recommendations for a system wide approach including;

  1. Build the digital skills pipeline.
  2. Support the transition to work.
  3. Upskill and reskill.

In summary, it is vital we continue to attract the best digital talent the world has to offer, bringing new ideas and market connections into the local New Zealand workforce.  However, more focus, collaboration and investment is required to build a strong local pipeline of talent, to support the transition from education to digital technology careers and to help those already working to upskill or reskill with in demand digital skills.

This research will be used by industry, the education system, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and others to create solutions that help more New Zealanders to enter pathways into tech careers.  Special thanks to the project partners, without their involvement, this research report would not be possible.  In particular, Google, MBIE, Ministry of Education, Microsoft, Absolute IT, IT Professionals NZ, Orion Health, Xero, Spark, Datacom, Media Design School, Intergen, Auckland Unlimited, ChristchurchNZ and InternetNZ.

We look forward to sharing our key findings and insights with you.  Please read the full report here.

Ngā mihi 

Graeme Muller

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