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Government levers to help solve the skills and talent shortage

Victoria MacLennan. 02 September 2022, 11:38 am

Yesterday I met with Minister Clark and Minister Tinetti and associated officials from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). It was a nice meeting, they said positive things about the collaboration between industry and government in development of the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan and we discussed the challenges of supporting people we don’t usually see in our sector.

In the face of limited budget to address the skills agenda I went to them with suggestions on where Government as an employer and procurer of talent could have a significant impact without new projects, programmes or budget required. This is a summary of the talking points – and yes I did take them pictures to highlight the issues. 

For context the Actions noted here are those posed in the Digital Skills and Talent Plan developed in 2021. The first deliverable of this on Reskilling and Upskilling will be out next week.

I also took the opportunity, to remind the Ministers we also need to ensure focus is maintained on closing the digital divide, asking how the policy work supporting the Digital Strategy for Aotearoa Inclusion Pou (pillar) is developing - the strategy is to be announced in 2 weeks time. And reminding them the Ministry of Education's Equitable Digital Access funding is running out at the end of this year - they do need to address this or all of the great work providing affordable connectivity and devices for learners will be rapidly undone! A message I will be shouting from the rooftops for the rest of the year. Vic

Government Levers – without new budget

The NZ Government is the single largest employer of Digital Technology (DT) workers and has levers that can materially influence the growth of the workforce.

Focus and ownership of driving workforce outcomes across Government’s DT workforce is needed.

Action 7 Digital skills and talent plan – An all-of-government strategic approach to skills:

  • Commitment to significantly scale the Gov Tech Grad programme from ~35 Graduates per annum to upwards of 250
  • Commitment to employing and developing junior staff across all agencies
  • A dedicated home for digital and technology skills management in Government
  • Programme to grow capability of mid-career staff - GovTech Advance

The NZ Government is also the single largest procurer of Digital Technology capability and has levers that can also materially influence the growth of the workforce:

  • Expand the Broader Outcomes Framework within the rules of sourcing to include supplier commitments to growing capability (vs leveraging immigration)
  • Increase use of contracting for outcomes vs plugging gaps with contractors, using these more strategically

Action 8 Increased support for digital tech learning in schools – Additional PLD for Teaching Digital Technologies

  • We understand the need to focus on literacy and mathematics, to prepare our learners for the future of work an equivalent focus needs to be placed on Digital Technologies including “ringfenced” PLD

Action 8 Increased support for digital tech learning in schools – Dedicated TeachNZ Scholarships

  • There is a strong need to recruit technology literate teachers, the The TeachNZ Te Huawhiti Career Changer Scholarship programme is designed to support those coming from another profession to become teachers, however these are untargeted 


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