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Flying New Zealand’s ICT Flag

For immediate release
20 November

Flying New Zealand’s ICT Flag

New Zealand’s ICT sector is being urged to “fly its flag” more aggressively to promote its value as a key driver in the economy and attract much needed talent.

This was a strong message from Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams addressing ICT professionals in Wellington last week at event hosted by New Zealand’s largest specialist ICT recruiter Absolute IT.

“We’re a $20 billion growth industry, employing more than 40,000 people and nipping at the heels of agriculture as the country’s main export earner, yet we’re still reticent to fly our flag,” says Absolute IT director Grant Burley.

The Minister addressed key issues such as skill shortages, education, government procurement processes, more effective use of ICT solutions in provision of public services and boosting the industry’s profile locally and on the global stage.

“It was heartening to hear the Minister’s strong mandate of support at all levels. She has a clear grasp of the challenges the industry faces and is open to listening and working with the industry to address them.”

A key challenge is the industry’s low visibility, which needed to change in order to help address major barriers to growth such as shortages of local talent.

“We need to be selling our success stories and increasing awareness of the value ICT brings,” Mr Burley says. “It’s about selling ICT as a career pathway, developing a young industry that will add substantial value to New Zealand’s economy with our products and services in such high demand.”

The Government’s Network for Learning initiative is bringing digital education into schools while actively encouraging schools to promote ICT as a creative and rewarding career pathway.

At a tertiary level, funding has been boosted for digital/technology courses and Government is working with training institutes to ensure graduates are delivering the skills needed by industry.

Greater awareness of IT as a key business enabler is also needed among SMEs, where uptake is still low with the recent State of New Zealand Digital Economy report showing that 35 per cent of SMEs had their own website.

“The first place people go to find services is the internet, so with 65 per cent of SMEs still without a website, there’s huge value to be tapped into and that’s just a small component of the value IT brings to business,” Mr Burley says.

Despite industry frustrations around the rollout of UFB, predicted to add 1.5 per cent to GDP, Mr Burley says industry needs to recognise that it’s one of the biggest communication transformations in New Zealand’s history.

“Something is being done; it’s a starting point and isn’t going to be perfect first time round.”

The Minister acknowledged another key industry frustration around current prescriptive Government procurement processes, which are preventing many New Zealand providers from working with agencies.

Likewise, she acknowledged industry concerns around overly bureaucratic immigration processes which made brining international talent into the country lengthy and time-consuming.

“It’s evident that Government understands the importance of ICT and is willing to cut out any red tape that is hindering it, creating easier pathways to business.”

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