NZTech is keen to help encourage more highly skilled foreign tech workers to immigrate to New Zealand to fill the digital skills shortage.

Graeme Muller, chief executive of NZTech, says some tech workers are exempt and can enter New Zealand during the global health crisis through the other critical worker route, but many key roles still cannot access them.

“New Zealand is seen as an attractive destination right now and there are huge opportunities for us to attract tech talent from the best tech countries in the world, and we can be smart about it.

“It was disappointing not to see anything important in the budget regarding technology, technological research or funds to develop technological skills in areas such as AI, biotechnology or agritech.

“We need to attract highly skilled professionals and experienced technology entrepreneurs to invest here in Aotearoa. The government could easily double the size of the tech industry to $ 12 billion, which would really snowball the recovery of the economy.

“New Zealand’s tech sector is hampered. Technology is set to become New Zealand’s largest export sector before 2030 and the covid pandemic has highlighted the comparative advantage that zero-gravity exports now offer over traditional commodities and the role that the sector plays in our economy.

“The 2020 Technology Investment Network (TIN) report showed that the export revenues of the top 200 technology exporters increased 10.6%, to a total of $ 9.4 billion. This was a strong performance despite economic headwinds and total sales reached $ 12.7 billion.

Muller says a problem that is routinely reported to him by tech companies from top to bottom across the country is related to workforce constraints and the inability to bring new staff to the country.

NZTech is deeply concerned that if this trend continues for too long, Aotearoa’s largest digital companies will be forced to strengthen their offshore teams and we will see New Zealand’s technology footprint shrink.

The economic and social benefit of having staff based in New Zealand is clear, says Muller.

These highly paid and highly skilled employees choose to settle in New Zealand, often bringing their families here and becoming significant contributors to the local economy.

“Our export sectors underpin our economy and the technology sector should be at the center of our long-term economic growth.

“We are also hoping that more New Zealanders will begin to view tech as a career for themselves or their children, given the large number and type of well-paying tech positions on offer with median salaries well above $ 80,000. per year.”

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