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“New Kiwis” A Rich Asset For IT Industry

“New Kiwis” A Rich Asset For The Country’s IT Industry

As New Zealand and the world struggles with a chronic shortage of IT specialists, the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry is questioning whether our technology industry pays enough attention to “new Kiwis” as a source of talent.

Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Michael Barnett says while the country moves to build a knowledge economy, the IT industry appears to be overlooking a ready resource amongst the numbers of skilled immigrants arriving here.

Since May, the Auckland Chamber has been running a ‘New Kiwis’ website as part of a Government-funded initiative to help skilled migrants into productive employment. The site allows migrants looking for work to register their skills and have them matched with prospective employers for no charge. The site also gives employers an opportunity to promote job vacancies – again, at no cost.

“In the short time since the site was posted on the internet, it has attracted 400 registrations from ‘New Kiwis’, says Mr Barnett. “Our database of their CVs shows that 90% of them are tertiary qualified, and there are120 IT professionals amongst them. This is a wonderful resource for our knowledge economy – especially for the IT industry which is constantly looking for talent.

“I think it’s time for New Zealand industry to walk the talk of globalisation and consider these ‘New Kiwis’ for their IT tasks. When New Zealand business executives travel offshore and sit around a boardroom table, they expect to do business with many different races of people.
“They negotiate with South Africans, Australians, Britons, people from India and so on, in whichever country they visit. So why is it not happening here to a similar extent?,” says Mr Barnett.

“Perhaps New Zealand business needs to better recognise the diversity of culture, and the valuable contribution that qualified people from other countries can make here. It might be that employers prefer employees with the New Zealand business ‘culture’ built-in. However, our employment law already requires us to treat all employees equally, and there’s plenty of evidence that suggests we should be treating any skilled, IT-qualified immigrant to New Zealand like gold,” says Mr Barnett.

Despite a downturn in internet-related projects following the bursting of the ‘dot com’ bubble in the US in particular, the growth of business-to-business e-commerce, networking and other IT activity is increasing world-wide. Figures released in May by the European Commission suggest the shortage of IT personnel in Europe is even greater than that of the United States, and that networking engineers, technicians and call-center staff are in particularly short supply around the world.

“The New Zealand Government has readily accepted there is an IT knowledge shortage,” says Mr Barnett, “and has for some time been operating special immigration provisions to make it easier for skilled IT workers to enter the country.” He says the Government has also been investigating how to make the tertiary education and training sector more responsive to the needs of the knowledge economy.

“If information technology workers are still the most sought-after staff in New Zealand, and it seems that is the case, then perhaps IT employers should be taking a closer look at our ‘New Kiwis’ website,” he says.

Mr Barnett believes many benefits accrue to companies which employ new Kiwis.

“They gain unique offshore professional experience and qualifications, they improve morale by encouraging tolerance and understanding of other cultures in the work place, and they tap into links to new networks of business contacts that may translate to potential customers or suppliers.

“They can also help to build and support a multicultural society, and they gain special language skills for the company. Independent research shows organisations that value and encourage diversity in the workplace perform significantly better across a range of benchmarks,” says Mr Barnett.

New Kiwis on the web:

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