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Labour's ICT plan would establish gov't CTO

Simon Eskow. 11 July 2014, 11:27 am
Labour's ICT plan would establish gov't CTO

Labour this week released its ICT policy agenda, with a central feature of establishing a government Chief Technology Officer to advise the PM and cabinet if the party wins in September. Today this was boosted with the release of a more comprehensive policy programme in ICT.

The party's Digital Economic Upgrade policy calls for the CTO to produce an annual ICT roadmap, while undertaking a "wide-ranging inquiry" of the way IT projects are managed by government agencies. Central to the announcement are also some well-needed changes to immigration.

The CTO will also spearhead the rest of Labour's ICT policy, announced this morning at Nethui, according to a statement released by the party. The statement calls for making IT a central part of New Zealand's economic development, with increased grants to support entrepreneurs, as well as programmes to fill the gaps in tech skills shortages, while encouraging capitalisation of and spending on New Zealand companies and products.

Labour's main points, debuted at the Net Hui conference today, include:

  • The establishment of 'Garage Grants' for tech entrepreneurs
  • Funding of 1,200 ICT apprenticeships
  • working with industry to establish a new industry-governed body to oversee Information Technology training
  • supporting ICT manufacturing with an accelerated depreciation regime, alongside research and development tax credits
  • Ensuring government agencies buy more Kiwi-made products
  • improving access to capital for businesses by increasing the national savings pool
  • containing or reducing structural costs to businesses, starting with electricity prices
  • working to lower unnecessary compliance costs for businesses

ICT apprenticeships supported

IITP CEO Paul Matthews said today that it was great both main parties were looking at how to bridge the gap for IT graduates into industry. "The establishment of 1200 ICT apprenticeship places could be a great stepping stone into the industry, especially for technician-focused roles", he said. "Combined with the recent announcement around ICT Graduate Schools, IITP is pleased that practical, robust solutions are being suggested".

Overhaul of Immigration requirements for ICT

The policy document also signals a review and possible changes to how those wanting to travel to New Zealand to work in the IT industry are assessed for immigration purposes, a move heralded by IITP in recent months.

"The policy quite correctly identifies a serious disconnect between how skills are assessed for immigration purposes, and the skills the IT Profession needs in New Zealand", Matthews said. "We strongly support tertiary degrees in our industry, however we also have to recognise that many people wanting to come to New Zealand with the skills our industry desperately needs are blocked based on whether they have a degree, rather than whether they have the skills needed".

The Institute of IT Professionals is often approached by individuals trying to come to New Zealand, often with extensive and much-needed experience but frustrated by not achieving sufficient points under the current system due to a lack of a degree. A move to take a more substantive approach to ICT skills assessment would help better match the skills needed in NZ, Matthews said.

TechBlog and Newsline will be reviewing and highlighting all major ICT policy announcements until the election.


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