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Skilled tech recruits flock to Wellington after talent attraction programme

By Kai Ping Lew
Wed 5 Jul 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It’s been just over a month since the LookSee Wellington week, when 93 LookSee finalists from around the world had job interviews for skills shortage roles with Wellington employers.

So far, 64 of the 93 tech specialists have either accepted job offers or are in discussions or negotiations with Wellington employers.

Dave Jones, Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) business growth and innovation general manager, says the recruitment stage of the tech talent attraction programme is progressing well.

“We’re pleased with the progress, and we’re looking forward to further placements from the initial group coming through in the months ahead.

“Finalising international recruitment takes time. There’s a long list of things to be done before stepping on a plane to bring your life - and in many cases your family - to a new country.”

“Employers recognise this, and are prepared to wait for the right people,” Jones adds.

Simon Marsh, Wellington City Councillor, who holds the Council’s Economic Development portfolio, was also pleased with how LookSee was developing.

“LookSee Wellington has raised Wellington’s profile in the international tech community far more cost-effectively than a traditional marketing campaign.

“Add to that the recruitment of top quality talent into much-needed key tech roles in Wellington businesses, both from the initial group of visiting candidates and the wider database, and LookSee Wellington represents a valuable long-term investment into the kind of programme Wellington City Council looks for WREDA to be involved in.”

Jones says that LookSee Wellington was a response to an appeal for help from the local tech sector.

“Changing the game for tech talent in Wellington was never just about five days and 100 people.

“It’s about getting Wellington firmly on the radar of the global tech community, establishing and managing an ongoing pipeline of top quality international talent, while supporting the continued development and retention of local talent.”

Jones says that just the candidates who have already accepted job offers would, in the first year of their employment, return to the regional economy more than WREDA’s $300,000 investment in the programme, purely in terms of cost of living spend, without even factoring in the boost to growth they could provide through their employers.

Damian Sainsbury, director of Workhere New Zealand, a privately-owned company specialising in talent attraction and global recruitment and one of the entrepreneurs behind the LookSee campaign, is pleased with how the programme is going. 

“In addition to those that arrived last month, many more conversations are happening between our employers and those that applied to the LookSee programme.”

Sainsbury says the initial group of candidates who came to Wellington are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of LookSee Wellington’s potential.

“As planned, the career trip to Wellington got LookSee off to a fantastic start.

“That was the hook which helped us build an international profile, driving a highly successful marketing campaign, resulting in global media coverage, and seeing more than 48,000 registrations from the world’s top tech talent.”

Sainsbury says the LookSee Talent Team are progressing into more detailed matchmaking between Wellington employers and the keenest, most talented candidates.

“There were plenty of highly-qualified people who caught the interest of employers, but who, for a variety of reasons, were unavailable to travel to Wellington in the scheduled week or weren’t suited to roles that were available at that time but who may be now.

“Employers such as Weta, TradeMe, Datacom and Totara are now re-engaging with the LookSee talent pool and we expect to see many placements over the remainder of this year and beyond.”

Simon Coggins, Totara CTO says the Looksee Wellington initiative has been an exceptionally creative way to reach out to global talent.

“The multiplier effect on the New Zealand economy is enormous, so the return on investment from the LookSee campaign will continue to accumulate for years to come.

“For Totara, it’s been very timely. Looksee has been a breakthrough initiative, we’re making hires and we’ll continue to engage with the LookSee talent pool to help source the skills we need to grow our business.”

Brendan Keys, Weta Digital human resources manager says, “Weta Digital has been impressed with the reach of the LookSee Campaign – drawing international attention to the tech industry in Wellington and attracting a highly skilled group of applicants, who are now considering a move to New Zealand.”

Sainsbury says the LookSee team are developing exciting new initiatives to connect these talented tech professionals with employers.

“Plus, we’re bringing more employers on board, who are keen to make the most of this tremendous resource of people who are keen to build a future here.”

In a candidate survey conducted after the LookSee Wellington week, over 20,000 of the registered applicants said they remained interested in job opportunities in New Zealand, with nearly three-quarters saying they’d be prepared to pay the costs of attending interviews if they could be reimbursed on accepting a job offer.

“We see a bright future for LookSee, as an ongoing programme that boosts Wellington’s profile and supports the continued success of our fantastic tech sector,” Jones says.

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