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AWS reports NZ's urgent need for digital skills training

One million more New Zealand workers will require digital skills training for their jobs in the next year, according to new research from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The ‘Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce' report, prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS, surveyed 1,039 digitally skilled workers in both technology and non-technology roles, and 300 employers in New Zealand with representation from public, private and non-profit sectors of different sizes and industries.

The findings show that the need for digital skills training became more acute during the pandemic, with an estimated 35% of the country's total workforce still requiring skills.

On top of this, 67% of workers surveyed in New Zealand feel they will require training in cloud-related skills by 2025 to progress in their careers.

Among these workers who feel that they require training in cloud-related skills, 54% feel they need to learn how to make use of cloud-based tools in their work, 32% of workers also feel that they will require training in migrating on-premises facilities to the cloud, and 23% feel that they will require cloud architecture design skills.

The report indicates that the ability to use cloud-based tools, such as cloud developer tools, cloud-based communication software, accounting software, and customer relationship management software, is projected to be the most in-demand skill required by employers by 2025, followed by cybersecurity skills.

It also highlights the need for more advanced cloud computing skills, and that the ability to migrate on-premises facilities to the cloud and cloud design architecture skills are predicted to be among the top 10 in-demand digital skills by 2025 in New Zealand.

Other advanced cloud skills such as machine learning, will be in high demand in businesses from healthcare to agriculture, fintech to media and entertainment.

The report indicates that 97% of organisations see a need to train their workers in digital skills, but only 25% have implemented a plan to do so, which could affect their competitiveness in such areas as productivity, innovation and employee retention.

Employers surveyed who support skills training programs see significant benefits, with 91% reporting improved employee productivity, 86% stating they were able to fast-track their digitisation goals, 79% achieving cost efficiencies, 80% reporting higher employee retention, and 76% seeing increased revenue.

AlphaBeta director for Asia Pacific Genevieve Lim says, “While the need for digital skills has been growing for years, the research shows that job changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated the need for more training for both tech and non-tech workers on digital capabilities in New Zealand.

"Organisations have accelerated their digitisation process to cope with the pandemic and ensure their long-term competitiveness. Transitioning into a digital-first economy will help countries recovery from COVID-19 and secure a stronger economic future.

"There is an urgent need for governments to work together with employers, training providers, and workers to meet these diverse and growing digital learning needs.

To prepare the next generation of cloud professionals for early cloud careers, and to build a diverse pipeline of entry-level talent into the workforce, AWS collaborates with higher education institutions, nonprofits, workforce development organisations, governments and employers on a range of digital upskilling programs.

In New Zealand, this includes programs like AWS re/Start, which is a free, full-time, 12-week program that prepares unemployed, underemployed and transitioning individuals for careers in cloud computing.

The program collaborates with Te Pkenga to build local talent, including those from Maori and Pasifika communities, by offering AWS Cloud skills development and job opportunities.

AWS country manager public sector NZ Tim Dacombe-Bird says, “Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen organisations of all sizes rapidly accelerate their digital transformation plans, driving an increased need for employers and their workers to advance skills training for cloud computing, cybersecurity, and machine learning.

"The AWS Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce report shows an urgency for workers and employers to increase digital skills knowledge and maximise the benefits of technology to individuals and organisations. AWS is committed to collaborating with industry and government in New Zealand to address the digital skills shortage.

"We are encouraging a culture of lifelong learning for the future and current workforce through programs like AWS re/Start. Our goal is to help people from beginners to seasoned IT professionals gain new cloud computing skills.

Datacom, an IT company founded in New Zealand, has committed to hiring local AWS re/Start graduates.

Datacom group chief executive officer Greg Davidson says, “The rapid evolution of technology combined with the mission-critical role it plays in the success of our country's economic future will continue to create high demand and short supply for skills.

"As the technology evolves, so will the need for different skills. We need to address the changing demand with initiatives that foster the continual learning and growth of our workforces. We need to partner with educational institutions, business, and government to offer different pathways and exciting careers.

"At the same time, we need to accelerate and scale initiatives that cast a wider net for new talent and support a diverse workforce in the tech sector. The AWS re/Start program is just one great example of how the industry can collaborate to address both the skills shortage and the issue of diversity in technology.

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