The digital talent gap in New Zealand
In the wake of COVID-19, Kiwi businesses are stepping up their investment in digital transformation, including increasing the number of roles that require technology skills. Changes to immigration due to closed borders mean that employers need to rely on candidates that are based here in New Zealand.
While this is good news for job seekers, it has flipped the power dynamic of the job market on its head. Candidates are now in a position where they can negotiate hard for jobs and the compensation they want.
One area in technology that’s received a lot of headlines recently has been cybersecurity. As fast as businesses have ramped up their investment in digital, so too have cybercriminals been quick to exploit any weaknesses.
Employers, consumers, and even the government, are concerned about security and protecting sensitive data from hackers. Unfortunately, however, there just isn’t enough talent in New Zealand to meet the current demands within the industry.
According to ISACA’s annual State of Cybersecurity 2021 survey, New Zealand and Australian respondents when it comes to a lack of cybersecurity skills and capability:
- 66% of respondents say their cybersecurity teams are understaffed (compared to 55% globally).
- 59% have unfulfilled cybersecurity positions (compared to 55% globally).
- 52% say their cybersecurity applicants are not well qualified (compared to 50% globally).
- 35% of HR staff understand what is required of the role when recruiting.
However, cybersecurity is just one example of an IT sector that’s struggling with a shortage of skilled talent. ICT, Electronics and Telecommunications are currently listed on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list.
There are 23 occupations on the list, including Architects, ICT Project Managers, Business Analysts, Developers, and Software Engineers. These are all high-paying roles, with the latest Seek data showing ICT roles as having the highest growth in salary nationwide Seek Highest Paying Roles.
The shortage of skilled staff, plus high demand, means that employers are struggling to source and retain talent in this competitive market. Good people are being poached by other companies as employers struggle to offer more money, promotions, or development opportunities that would entice them to stay.
Employers that can afford to – traditionally the big IT companies – are also increasing their average pay to retain their pool of skilled staff and make vacancies more attractive to prospective employees. This is making it even more difficult for small-medium companies to compete.
While some candidates are open to changing jobs and leaving for new opportunities, some employees are unwilling to change roles and look for new opportunities. According to a survey conducted by Trade Me Jobs of 1,400 Kiwis, just 17% said they were looking to move roles in the next 12 months.
This tells us that job security is important for Kiwis amidst the continued global uncertainty, which is perfectly understandable. However, it doesn’t help those trying to fill specialised IT roles in their company.
With New Zealand’s borders set to remain closed for the foreseeable future, the pressure on the labour market is likely to continue in coming months. Now is the perfect time for forward-looking employers to develop their USP and build non-tangible brand assets like their company reputation and culture and offer staff personal fulfilment and healthy career progression.
It’s also important to keep up with the demands of the tech industry by upskilling staff through learning and development opportunities. Combined, these should all help attract candidates in the competitive IT sector.
Success in recruiting candidates in NZ’s current IT market requires strategic thinking and specialised experience. If you’re looking to recruit in IT and digital, talk to Techspace Consulting. As technology specialists in the recruitment industry, we build the best-fit technology and digital resource capability for our clients.
Best of all, we take the weight off your shoulders and do it in a way that makes doing business with us easy. We build partnerships with your best interests at heart and work to match you with the best candidates.
About the author
Gabriel Dragos is the Technology Resourcing Manager at Techspace. He provides tailored solutions to a varied client portfolio that ranges from International to medium and small software houses within the New Zealand ICT market.