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NZTech Inform – restrictions, talent and digital trade

Last week, as well as meeting Minister Shaw to discuss the role of technology in the upcoming Emissions Reduction Plan, I discussed COVID-19 restrictions with Minister’s Wood and Nash. The Ministers wanted to discuss the proposed traffic light system, replacing the current Alert Levels and any potential impacts on the tech sector.

This provided an opportunity to highlight the border restrictions as the biggest issue for tech firms. Last week, FinTechNZ polled their members and found that talent attraction and retention are currently their biggest concern (57 percent) with the inability to travel internationally for trade and export next (20 percent). Currently, a business traveller self-isolation pilot is being trialed and we recommended it be extended to include talent. There is also work underway on a potential class exemption to help gain more visas for critical tech talent.

However, our skill and talent issues won’t be resolved through immigration alone. Summer of Tech, the leading tech intern development and placement not-for-profit has seen a 50 percent increase in summer intern placements compared to last year. Due to the ongoing border issues, more employers are investing in local talent and they are discovering that taking on an intern is a great, low risk way to grow their team. The good news is that Summer of Tech still has 1,700 students that are prepped and ready for a paid internship anywhere in New Zealand, plus over 550 graduates on their books ready for full-time work.

On the subject of digital trade, a new report exploring the barriers to NZ-US digital trade has identified a wide range of commercial challenges to work through to support increased digital trade with the United States. The tech export environment is generally very positive and the report highlights a formal digital trade agreement as a first step toward a broader free trade agreement. 

Finally, in case you missed it, the Government’s discussion document, Towards a Digital Strategy for Aotearoa – Te koke ki tētahi Rautaki Matihiko mō Aotearoa was published last week. Discussion closes on 10 November, 2021. All feedback will be used to help inform the development of a Digital Strategy for Aotearoa in the coming months. Please have your say on the ambition, direction and approach to our country’s digital future. Share your thoughts by attending a virtual hui during October and November, join the online discussion or make a submission to the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa team. 

Have a great week.

Ngā mihi,

Graeme Muller

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