A ministry of Economic
Development survey has revealed there is a significant
shortage of skilled labour in the IT industry, despite the
recession and consequent job losses.
The situation has prompted the University of Otago to
increase its intake of information science students by up to
100% during the next two years.
New Zealand Information and Communications Technology chief
executive Brett O'Riley said the survey, conducted by NZICT
on behalf of the ministry, showed 83% of companies surveyed
found difficulties in recruiting qualified, skilled and
experienced staff, and it was having a medium to major effect
on their businesses.
However, the survey also revealed companies were expecting
continued growth in staff levels during the coming months,
and more than 50% of companies surveyed were planning to
appoint technical staff.
Mr O'Riley said it demonstrated continued employment
opportunities and demand across a range of highly paid roles,
including programming, project management, and network and
systems engineering in both the IT and telecommunications
"These roles are essential to New Zealand's drive to improve
productivity and also generate foreign exchange."
University of Otago Information Science Department head Prof
Martin Purvis said about 80 information technology and
computer science students graduated from the university each
year, and most - if not all - received multiple job offers as
soon as they left.
"These graduates have been swallowed up as quick as we've
been able to churn them out over the last couple of years.
"The situation is so serious, places like Telecom are
importing skilled IT people from overseas to help fill the
need for skilled staff."
Prof Purvis believed the demand for IT staff was now easing,
but the shortage was still significant.
The university was now trying to encourage Otago secondary
school pupils to study information technology at a tertiary
level, in the hope it would help boost the university's
intake into the department by up to 100%.
"That will definitely help the situation."
Mr O'Riley said NZICT was also working closely with the
education sector and other industry stakeholders with a
comprehensive programme to address the skills shortage and
ensure students and potential employees are aware of the
opportunities that await them.
"ICT roles command above-average remuneration both
domestically and internationally, and they are in high
"ICT education and skills are a global employment passport,
making a 21st-century OE a highly lucrative opportunity for
many young New Zealanders," he said.