Businesses, recruiters desperate for skilled IT staff

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A combination of closed borders and a lack of interest in IT within New Zealand may be contributing to the deficit. Photo: Getty Images
IT recruiters and businesses face a shortage of skilled workers in New Zealand, with one business having 80 vacancies in Wellington alone.

A list of skill shortages provided by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce includes everything from bakers to marine and motorcycle technical staff.

But Business Central chief executive Simon Arcus said the biggest shortages are in IT, cyber security and info technology.

"There's a high degree of demand in IT and it's coming from the changing technology.

"We [usually] get the knowledge and the inspiration and the extra ideas from bringing people in from overseas."

He said New Zealand's talent pool was not big enough to fill the volume of jobs in the industry.

"We don't think it's the rate at which education is producing and developing people with skills, we just think it's the sheer volume of numbers.

"Even if we started with everyone being trained today, it still takes time to create professionals, it takes time to deliver them into the workforce, and that's the critical issue that we're facing right now."

Datacom Growth practices director Suzanne Miller said they had about 200 job vacancies across New Zealand, around 80 of which were in Wellington.

"The market is really competitive at the moment and obviously IT is a fast-paced environment – we're always looking for good people, and they're hard to find."

"Lots of organisations are going through a mode of transformation, or they're becoming more digitised and we just don't have enough people to fill the demand at the moment.

A combination of closed borders and a lack of interest in IT within New Zealand may be contributing to the deficit, she said.

But more work also needed to be done to ensure young people considered IT as a career path: "Moving into schools and universities to talk about the opportunities to work in IT and why it's an exciting career move, I think we need to do a bit more of that".

Auckland Recruit IT general manager Noel Hassapladakis said he had observed the deficit of skilled IT workers in the Kiwi market.

"We as a country lack skilled IT professionals anyway and obviously with the borders closed there's no new talent coming into the country.

"The other issue [is fewer] students taking up studying IT, that's certainly declined in the past few years."

He said the lack of local candidates was starting to affect some businesses and projects, as they were having to rely on contract workers over permanent staff.

"Some projects are failing, some are taking a lot longer because they don't have the resources. It's putting a lot more pressure on existing staff members to work more hours to complete the work.

"Projects are running over time and over budget because some companies are having to pay a premium for contract resources to actually deliver these projects."

He said the Government needed to consider allowing skilled IT talent into the country.

"We need to start considering the hurt this is doing to the New Zealand economy because obviously IT makes up a significant portion of the GDP – our technology exports have grown exponentially year on year.

"They really need to start considering allowing key talent into the country and quarantine as a New Zealand citizen would."

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