Tomorrow night I'm chairing an interactive panel discussion on the skills challenge facing New Zealand technology companies. It's part of Massey University's ecentre cloud series. The session starts at 5:30 at the Sir Neil Waters Building, Massey University Albany.
Innovative companies depend on talented knowledge workers. They are in short supply everywhere, New Zealand is no different from other western nations. Yet with our innovators going through a golden age, the problem is particularly acute now.
This certainly is a golden age for New Zealand innovators. A whole raft of entrepreneurial companies are taking leading edge technology products and services to the world. We've always had innovators, but Xero's global success has inspired others to shoot for bigger goals. Vend, the Wynyard Group, E-Road and PowerbyProxi are some of the best known.
For every high-profile innovator that you've read about in the business pages there are dozens of smaller companies queueing up behind.
It's exciting times. For the first time in history we are creating a new wave of exactly the kind of high growth technology companies our economy needs to lift us from relying on producing commodities. Exciting times, but also worrying times because fewer students are signing up for courses in the subjects that feed these industries: science, technology, engineering and maths. It's not just at the university level, school students are turning their backs on these subjects.
We can shake our heads, complain and make loud noises about this problem — that's an understandable response. But the centre cloud discussion panel is going to look for answers. The plan is for people to come away from the session with a better idea of the shape of the problem and some positive ideas about how to fix it.