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ICT Trends: meeting the future demand for skills

Garry Roberton, Senior Lecturer, Wintec. 16 December 2011, 1:48 pm
ICT Trends: meeting the future demand for skills

The ICT Trends series, published during the latter half of this year [May/June, July/August, Sept/Oct & Nov] highlights both the current and impending ICT skills shortages with ICT-related education and skills training proposed as the fundamental solution.

This article focuses on the content of the December edition of the NZ ICT Education and Job Trends, a monthly statistical trends publication for the ICT sector.

Demand Growing for higher Level Vocational Qualifications  

The DoL Skills Challenges Report emphasizes the key challenges facing the New Zealand labour market over the next 10 years. Extracts from this report forecast a demand for people with higher-level vocational qualifications across a wide range of occupations, while estimating growth of only 0.7% per year over the same period. The reasons given for this low growth are;

  • high levels of net outflows through migration (mostly to Australia),
  • people retiring are as likely to hold a vocational qualification as new entrants to the workforce
  • people tend to acquire their first vocational qualification at a relatively older age, with the median age being 25 to 29 years (compared to 20 to 24 years for degree-holders), and [importantly]
  • growth in vocational completions has come from a low base following the decline of vocational training from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s as the economy restructured

A significant component of NZ's labour supply, immigration, is also predicted to become more problematic. According to the report, attracting migrants, who can add skills, innovation and capital to the economy, will become harder as ageing in the OECD increases competition for the same cohort.

Attracting Migrants with the Requisite Skills

Immigration NZ recently published lists of essentials skills in demand, including the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL), effective on and from 5 December 2011. A search of the LTSSL, using ICT as the term, produces a list of 27 ICT, electronics and telecommunications occupations appealing to the skilled migrant category. The occupations range from Project Manager to Telecommunications Network Engineers and almost every other ICT occupation, in between, one can think of.

Considering the content of the DoL skills challenges report and the luring of NZ technology graduates to [mostly] Australia and the UK [refer below], the prospects for attracting migrants with the requisite skills and experience appear challenging, to say the least.

Continuing Growth of Computing Professional Occupation

The SkillsInsight [SIT] is another DoL resource incorporating occupational information from a range of non-governmental sources, in addition to official sources, to better reflect current labour market conditions. The labour market supply indicators for the computing professional occupation group show that employment reached 36,784 in 2009. Growth in employment has been above average at 8% for the last 5 years and growth in this occupation is expected to be above average at 5% over the period 2008 to 2013. If tertiary ICT enrolments in NZ have already peaked at levels 25% below the 2002 maximum reached, more than likely to be a global trend, [refer July article] then the prospects for meeting the forecast growth are remote indeed.

Hiring for ICT Jobs in 2012

A Computerworld article, published on Monday 12 December, highlights the challenges facing the ICT industry in the short term. Rod Drury's software product company, Xero, is looking to hire 50 to 100 new employees over the next two years, reinforced in this 13 December tweet:


Rod's requirements include not only software developers [*261312], but NZ-based product managers, marketers, testers [*261314], and technical documenters. Xero is currently sourcing much of its IT talent from the UK, due to a shortage of NZ candidates, thus reinforcing the recent DoL skills challenges report [*ANZSCO Codes from the LTSSL search results].

According to the Computerworld article there is definitely no oversupply of skilled [ICT] workers this year. Technology graduates with two to three years experience are being lured away, mostly to Australia and the UK, with the prospect of higher wages and more interesting work opportunities.

Martin Barry, Absolute IT co-director, comments that NZ companies need to engage technology graduates before they go overseas and need to get more of a presence on campuses.

So just what are the top skills sets that executives will be hiring for in NZ for 2012? According to a recent article in the IT Career News they are;

  • Programming and application development
  • Project management [621 PM jobs advertised on Seek]
  • Help desk and technical support
  • Networking
  • Business intelligence [SQL Server BI Specialists - currently 324 SQL Server jobs advertised on Seek]
  • Data centre professionals
  • Web 2.0
  • Security [624 jobs, containing the word security, advertised on Seek]
  • Telecommunication

Implicit in some of these top skill sets are requirements for industry certifications, the demand for which is illustrated below.

ICT Skills in Demand in New Zealand

The following series of charts gives an indication of the demand for programming languages and industry certification in the current NZ ICT job market.

.NET & Java Developers in Demand


The TIOBE Programming Community index for December 2011 rates the top four languages as; Java, C, C++ and C#. PHP, rated second in local demand, is sixth in the top 20 languages, according to TIOBE.

The continuing NZ demand for Java programmers and developers reinforces the Computerworld 'hottest skills' headline; experienced software and web developers [.NET & Java developers] highly sought after in 2011 [and this is] expected to continue next year.

Linux dominates the NZ Market


Demand for people with Linux expertise continues to dominate the NZ market, as it has done throughout the year.

Prince 2 Leads the Market 


Demand for people qualified with Prince 2 continues at just over 40% of the total adverts for PMP, ITIL and Prince 2.

Challenging Times Ahead

In conclusion, the New Zealand ICT industry faces some major challenges ahead, especially in the medium to long term. Finding adequate numbers of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced employees to fill the growing number of job vacancies won't be easy.

It is clear from Immigration's web tool Essential Skills in Demand [LTSSL], listing 27 ICT, electronics and telecommunications occupations, that the NZ government is acknowledging the problem. However, countering this initiative is the luring away overseas of our technology graduates with two to three years experience, mostly to Australia and the UK.

NZ also has to compete for the same migrant cohort in the international market and will, therefore, have to find innovative ways [thinking outside the square] to attract and to bring people with the higher level ICT vocational qualifications to this country.

More information

Garry also produces a monthly report containing statistics and facts related to ICT enrolments and job trends which can be accessed on the CITRENZ site.

Garry Roberton is a Senior Lecturer with the School of IT at Wintec and Executive Board Member and Fellow of CITRENZ.


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