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High interest in tech at school but low tertiary uptake - Datacom

Peter Griffin, Editor. 02 March 2023, 9:07 am

Research from IT services company Datacom shows that 40% of New Zealanders have considered studying for a career in tech.

But the high level of interest hasn’t equated to tertiary study, with just 5% of students enrolled in tertiary education in New Zealand specialising in information technology courses.

That’s a barrier to efforts to grow our domestic skills pipeline to meet the strong demand for tech talent. That doesn’t just go for coders, cloud architects and cybersecurity analysts. Around one million Kiwis will need to upskill in more general tech-related areas over the next year to keep up with the pace of change.

Around 5,000 new tech roles are being created in New Zealand each year while just 2,000 students are annually taking on IT degrees. The discrepancy is resulting in “lost opportunities to grow the country’s tech exports and GDP”, says Datacom, which employs nearly 7,000 people across New Zealand and Australia.

Tech isn't boring!

Datacom’s survey revealed some key misconceptions about a career in tech, including that people don’t have the right skills to enter the industry (34%) and that tech is boring/uninteresting 22%.

As students prepare to finalise their course selections for 2023, Datacom is encouraging them to consider the “high earning potential, strong career development opportunities, and a skills gap that has led to significant job openings” in tech.

"The idea that the technology industry is uninteresting comes from misguided stereotypes of what a tech employee looks like - often depicted in popular culture as a person sitting in a dark room in front of a screen of rolling numbers,” says Justin Gray, Datacom’s Managing Director of Technology Services.

“That is nothing like the reality of the work we get to do. Technology roles in New Zealand are diverse, engaging, and collaborative. Employees create solutions for some of our country’s biggest challenges, utilising technology, creativity, and innovation to develop them.”

More diversity in tech needed

The survey showed that Maori and Pasifika respondents expressed high levels of interest in studying for a career in IT - 49% reported that they had considered it, compared to 40% for New Zealanders overall. But again, there’s a gulf between expressed interest and students going on to study IT, with Maori making up just 4% of the IT workforce and Pasifika accounting for 3%. Only 32% of women considered a tech career.

"As an industry and a country, we also need to work on how we can encourage more women to pursue tech careers. While we are seeing positive change and more women getting into tech than ever before, there’s more work to be done to encourage young women to take up tech courses and pursue careers in the industry," says Gray.


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Sasha Mrkailo 05 March 2023, 8:18 am

Perhaps not that surprising. I have a number of certificates, study IT at Open Polytech and have been looking for an entry level position for quite some time. Every single job ad asks for 1 to 3 years of experience. There are no entry level jobs. Employers want magically to get experienced workforce without offering getting the experience.

Fang Cai 05 March 2023, 11:27 am
Fang Cai 05 March 2023, 11:32 am

I learned a lot from Aspire 2 (IT support, Level 5) in 2022. Everyone is nice and helpful. I just got a job at a high school as an IT help desk technician.

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