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Giz a job: Industry says no need for tertiary qualifications

Paul Brislen, Editor. 28 September 2017, 10:20 am

As the innovation sector struggles to find people to fill roles, a number of major companies have banded together to deliver an open letter to the public saying applicants need not hold a formal qualification to be considered.

It's part of a move designed to address the shortage of science, design and tech graduates who are often lured overseas by promises of higher salaries, shares in the companies they work for and the classic Kiwi "Overseas Experience". Who wouldn't want to work in Silicon Valley for a tier one company, and come away with experience and a salary package to boot.

Locally, that means more struggle to find staff and has led to this call for applicants who don't have  tertiary qualifications to put their hands up.

"We confirm that for a range of specific, skilled-based roles in our companies, we do not require tertiary qualifications. These may be roles in technology, sales, marketing, customer services, management, manufacturing and operations to name a few," says the letter.

A number of well-know, market-leading tech brands have put their names to the letter including Xero, Spark, Orion, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, ASB, Vector, Vend, TradeMe, Rush Digital, Intergen, SafeStack, FrondeRoam, Catalyst, Movio, AMS and many others (DISCLAIMER: The editor works or has worked with a number of these companies in a paid capacity).

The letter, and the call for lesser-qualified candidates, is supported by a number of tech lobby groups, including NZTech, whose CEO Graeme Muller has penned a blog post outlining why the organisation supports the initiative.

"The way technology is changing jobs means there are many ways to develop needed skills, and as soon as you remove the preconception that everyone needs a degree you can tap into lots of new talent."

One of those without a degree is Vend founder Vaughan Rowsell who describes himself as a "serial drop out" and who is largely self-taught when it comes to coding and business skills.

"We don't look at the qualifications, we look at their adaptability and their creative thinking, their ability to work in a team and to fail  - these are the things you don't learn in a formal qualification. Definitely not failure, but that's also the biggest thing that you learn from," Rowsell is quoted as saying on Stuff.

Today, the tech sector is New Zealand's third largest export earner and contributes over $16 billion to the country. It employs over 100,000 people but NZTech's Muller says that value will skyrocket if we raise education outcomes across the board.


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