Major tech skills report released by Digital Skills Forum
The Digital Skills Forum, made up of IT Professionals NZ and other leading tech bodies and core government agencies, today released the most comprehensive report on skills in New Zealand's tech sector in a generation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found a significant mismatch between demand for skills from industry and supply within the market - in short, a significant and growing skills shortage. However for the first time this shortage has now been quantified, and detailed research has identified the areas of greatest demand.
While initiatives in schools, the tertiary sector and immigration are making an impact, the size of the gap is significant - with more than 14,000 tech jobs created last year but only around 5000 graduates entering the industry and 5500 technology visas issued to migrants.
The report found that enrolments in tertiary computing and IT qualification courses are growing. Programmes such as ITP's TechHub has been working to help lead more school students into tertiary study and degree accreditation and other activities, such as the recent review and revamp of all sub-degree computing and IT qualification on the NZ Qualifications Framework, is helping ensure graduates from these programmes match industry needs more closely. However the current graduation growth rate of 7% for tech-related Degrees and Diplomas is encouraging but not yet sufficient to meet industry growth.
While qualifications aren't the only pathway into the industry, the fact remains that 76% of those in the tech industry, and between 85% and 92% of those entering the industry, are tertiary qualified.
It is also clearer than ever before that greater gender and cultural diversity in the sector is an absolute key to bridging supply and demand of talent. While the number of female students has increased in recent years, at only 36% our industry is losing a significant number of potential female technologists to other professions.
It's also interesting to note where the greatest areas of shortage are. While this was skewed a little by the number and type of companies surveyed, experienced software developers were significantly in demand, outstripping other areas. This was followed by Architects, IT engineers, and data analysts. As per previous studies, it is clear that the greatest demand is in the professional-level roles (usually acquired after tertiary study and significant industry experience), whereas demand for technician-level roles is diminishing due to trends in the industry (eg increases in Cloud and Mobile computing).
The report also highlighted the importance of soft skills, especially problem solving skills, creative thinking, communication skills and collaboration - some of the core requirements of ITP's Degree Accreditation programme for Bachelor Degrees. Those looking to study towards a Computing or IT Degree would be well served by researching which degrees have obtained industry accreditation.
This is the first report produced by industry and Government together via the Digital Skills Forum. The Forum was established to identify, analyse and tackle skill issues in the sector, with most work to date focused on practical projects to support greater collaboration between industry and government to tackle the tech skills shortage.
The report provides valuable insight, which will be used by Government, industry bodies and others when making decisions about programmes and initiatives in future.
You can download the full report here [pdf].
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