NZ IT sector grapples with training tomorrow’s CIOs

New Zealand industry groups, government, and academia are all seeking ways to increase technology education with a business context.

Rearview students with hands up teacher in background [students, education, question time]
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Between the IT skills that are taught at tertiary level and the skills that are needed by industry, there can be a yawning gap into which graduates fall into. This is particularly true for those students — tomorrow’s CIOs — seeking to combine tech and business careers in the ever-changing world of enterprise IT.

The Digital Skills Aotearoa Report released by NZTech this month shows that in 2019 there were 15,325 students enrolled across all levels of tertiary IT courses and 3,265 students graduated with computer science degrees.

Demand for IT skills is high. A NZTech survey of 190 employers shows that collectively they will require 5,000 newly digitally skilled employees in the next two years. But the reality is that those job vacancies are often filled by overseas workers. In 2019, there were 3,683 visas approved for IT professionals to immigrate to New Zealand.

With New Zealand’s borders shut due to COVID-19, NZTech CEO Graeme Muller says he has heard tech firms discussing the idea of joining forces and funding their own managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility to ensure that the flow of highly skilled IT talent in New Zealand continues.

“It may seem like a quick fix, but it involves complex logistics,” Muller told NZTech members this week. “Recent Bloomberg calculations suggest it is likely to take seven years before the pandemic ends and international borders return to some form of normal. Considering the analysis, doesn’t it make more sense to help grow local talent and upskill our own workforce?”

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