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Flying New Zealand’s ICT flag

20 Nov 2012

New Zealand’s ICT sector is being urged to “fly its flag” more aggressively to promote its value as a key driver in the economy and attract much needed talent.

That is the view of Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams, who addressed ICT professionals in Wellington last week at an event hosted by ICT recruiter Absolute IT.

“We’re a $20 billion growth industry, employing more than 40,000 people and nipping at the heels of agriculture as the country’s main export earner, yet we’re still reticent to fly our flag,” said Grant Burley, Absolute IT director.

Discussing issues such as skill shortages, education, government procurement processes, Adams urged for more effective use of ICT solutions in provision of public services to boost the industry’s profile locally and on the global stage.

“It was heartening to hear the Minister’s strong mandate of support at all levels," Burley said.

"She has a clear grasp of the challenges the industry faces and is open to listening and working with the industry to address them.

“We need to be selling our success stories and increasing awareness of the value ICT brings.

“It’s about selling ICT as a career pathway, developing a young industry that will add substantial value to New Zealand’s economy with our products and services in such high demand.”

The Government’s Network for Learning initiative is currently bringing digital education into schools while actively encouraging schools to promote ICT as a creative and rewarding career pathway.

While at a tertiary level, Burley said funding has been boosted for digital/technology courses with the government working with training institutes to ensure graduates are delivering the skills needed by industry.

Greater awareness of IT as a key business enabler is also needed among SMEs according to Burley, who said uptake is still low with the recent State of New Zealand Digital Economy report showing that 35% of SMEs had their own website.

“The first place people go to find services is the internet, so with 65 per cent of SMEs still without a website, there’s huge value to be tapped into and that’s just a small component of the value IT brings to business,” he said.

“Something is being done; it’s a starting point and isn’t going to be perfect first time round.

“It’s evident that Government understands the importance of ICT and is willing to cut out any red tape that is hindering it, creating easier pathways to business.”

Is enough being done to fly the ICT flag for New Zealand? Tell us your thoughts below