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ICT Trends: Looking back, looking forward

Garry Roberton, Senior Lecturer, Wintec. 28 June 2012, 3:42 pm
ICT Trends: Looking back, looking forward

What Has Changed in the Last Year?

Twelve months ago I began a Newsline article with; "The ratio between availability of ICT graduates versus industry demand significantly impacts the ICT sector and New Zealand as a whole. The trend of both has caused considerable concern in recent years."

Recently the headline of an article by Brain Fallow, economics editor for the NZ Herald, caught my attention. It reads "Job ads reveal 'fairly tepid' labour market" and refers to a fall of 2 per cent in the A/NZ job ads indicator (combined Internet and newspaper ads) for April. This follows a fall of 0.9 per cent in March. The article also mentioned the DoL online job ads report, which refers to a decline of 5.4 per cent for IT for the period March - April 2012.

So what impact, if any, is this apparent downturn in current job ads having on the ICT skills shortage? Has the number of ICT graduates increased and/or, conversely, has industry demand declined?

A Healthy Enrolment Scene, but...

The May 2012 edition of the ICT trend series, published here, charts an overall healthy trend of increasing IT EFTS (Equivalent Full Time Students) enrolments, for the NZ Tertiary Sector, from 2007:

  • A 36% increase for diplomas, but 1,700 fewer enrolments in 2010 than in 2002
  • A 14% increase for degrees, but 4,200 fewer enrolments in 2010 than in 2002



Mixed Messages in Domestic Enrolments

A breakdown of domestic EFTS enrolments for all IT qualifications reinforces the trend of increasing numbers enrolling in diploma and bachelor degrees from 2007. Enrolments for all other qualifications, including certificates at levels 1 to 4, are falling, or are static at best:



International Enrolments - worrying trends

Considering the costs involved and the effort that NZ tertiary institutes make in marketing their qualifications to the overseas markets, including India, China and Saudi Arabia, the international IT enrolment trends illustrated must be of concern.


It's likely that New Zealand's non-involvement in the international Seoul Accord (where other countries cross-recognise IT degrees) has either had an impact or will. Fortunately NZCS is working to get New Zealand included in this.


Healthy Increases in Seek ICT Job Adverts 

Total job adverts in May increased 14% for the month and are up by 30% on May 2010. Monthly change by region indicates that;

  • Auckland rose 8 per cent
  • Wellington rose 27 per cent
  • Canterbury rose 10 per cent

The following chart indicates a 14 per cent decline in Seek ICT job ads for the period March - April 2012, compared with the 5.4 per cent decline for IT mentioned in the DoL online job ads report. Some have suggested that the Easter break, combined with the ANZAC break and school holidays, may explain the unusual dip in job ads for this period.



Strong Demand for Programmers/Developers in Wellington

Java and PHP continue to dominate the Seek ICT job adverts, with the greatest monthly increases occurring for Wellington at:

  • 27 per cent for .NET
  • 21 per cent for PHP
  • 14 per cent for Java



NZ Employer Challenges - dealing with skill shortages

According to extracts from a recent CDL Insight Consulting 'Power of 10' report;

  • Eighty three percent of NZ employers report that talent shortages are affecting business results today with IT included as one of those reported to be in shortest supply
  • Overwhelmingly, the top talent challenge facing NZ business today is reported as skill shortages
  • With the degree of ongoing economic turmoil, an aging workforce, increased global competition and continued innovation, NZ organisations will be forced to develop talent strategies amidst uncertain times. Employees can no longer afford to be viewed as expensive and expendable.

These insights are reinforced by a recent NZ Herald article headed 'Jobs-driven migration to Oz at high of 53,000' that continues;

  • The Kiwi exodus to Australia has hit a new high, with annual departures reaching 53,000 last month (according to Statistics New Zealand)
  • New Zealand suffered a net loss of 39,100 people after departure numbers were partially offset by 13,900 arrivals, most of them returning citizens
  • The net loss of migrants in the last year comes despite increases in the number of people moving here from Britain (up 5300), India (5000) and China (4800)

Even assuming that only a small percentage of the total annual departures are people with IT skills, New Zealand's ICT industry has good reason to be concerned. Combining this exodus with the continuing growing demand in NZ for ICT skills and with the lower tertiary ICT enrolments underscores the extent of the growing skills shortage.


NZQA Targeted Review of Qualifications (TRoQ)

The Targeted Review of Qualifications at levels 1-6 (everything except Degrees) on New Zealand's ten-level qualifications framework commenced in 2008. The review aims to ensure that New Zealand qualifications are useful and relevant to current and future learners, employers and other stakeholders.

The field of Computing and Information Technology is provisionally scheduled for 2013. The stakeholders in this review include representatives from the profession and industry, ITPs (polytechnics), PTEs (Private Training Establishments) and Te W?nanga o Aotearoa, as well as NZQA.

The review may be triggered ahead of the scheduled date; i.e. 2012, if the stakeholders are able to meet NZQA requirements, which includes the formation of a steering group and the appointment of a project manager.

NZCS has been asked to take a leadership role in this review and it's great to see the Society step up. As the professional body representing those in Software and Information Technology (IT) related fields, some would argue this is almost what the Society was established for.

In the meantime stakeholders should be giving some thought as to their requirements for IT/ICT qualifications that will be useful and relevant to the industry, in preparation for their participation in the review process.


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 web 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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