printer icon

Covid accelerates need for entire NZ population to upskill – report

The covid pandemic has accelerated digitalisation globally and in New Zealand, necessitating a mass upskilling of digital skills by the entire population, a major new survey report says.

More now than ever before, digital skills are essential for everyday life and ever-growing work opportunities.

The Digital Skills Aotearoa survey, says digital technology impacts almost every sector in the country.

Digitalisation and the convergence of technologies is creating entirely new industries, such as agritech, fintech and healthtech. It is also creating lots of new and exciting new job opportunities, such as creative design for human interaction, game developers and digital farm advisors.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says this is creating a huge demand for digital skills.  Without a digitally skilled labour force, New Zealand will be unable to harness digital technology opportunities and the broader digitalisation of the economy, he says.

“Digital technologies enable New Zealand to overcome the challenge of geographical distance, through weightless digital exports, ultimately providing strong productive growth, higher wage employment and the creation of large, exporting organisations.

“Covid has accelerated digitalisation globally, necessitating a mass upskilling of digital skills by the entire population.

“If New Zealand doesn’t improve the digital skills of its workforce we will continue to have low levels of productivity and ultimately more expensive, less competitive products competing in global markets.

“Automation technologies, in particular machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence, could offer small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that make up 97 percent of New Zealand businesses, the ability to extend their reach and increase their productivity.

“But two issues we are facing are the lack of digital skills in our workforce and the scarcity of experienced professionals to fill demand in complex digital technology roles.

“The shift away from traditional office support positions, machine operators, factory workers and other low skill professions towards roles with requiring digital skills is accelerating.”

Microsoft Data Science is predicting that global lockdowns will accelerate digitisation and create an additional 149 million digital technology jobs globally by 2025.

The survey says the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that most jobs will require digital skills by 2030, yet even in advanced societies like Europe, 44 percent of 16-74 year olds lack even basic digital abilities. 

The report found that not enough organisations are investing in upskilling their staff with digital skills and this is creating an economic brake as people shift jobs looking for these opportunities.

There is also a concerning, significant lack of diversity throughout the education pipeline and subsequent digital roles. There are opportunities to greatly improve transitions from education to employment, plus upskilling or re-skilling to better access the New Zealand workforce.

The Digital Skills Forum is run by tech national organisations, led by NZTech, was established by government in 2015, to bring together government and tech industry which is redefining the world Kiwis live in.

For further information contact NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller on 021 02520767 or NZTech’s media specialist, Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188

NZTech We connect, promote and advance the New Zealand Technology ecosystem to help the tech sector and the economy grow.