The Government has proposed sweeping changes to the way it supports the tech sector's growth in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
The digital technology sector is now one of the country's top earners, contributing an estimated $6.6 billion to the economy in 2019. Despite COVID-19, the sector is still growing at almost twice the rate of the rest of the economy, says Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark.
The digital technologies sector draft Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) aims to address how the Government can work with the industry to increase the sector's contribution to New Zealand's gross domestic product (GDP), as well as increasing export revenue, creating more job opportunities, and improving diversity.
It will do this in several ways:
- By ensuring the sector can attract the skills that it needs to grow at all levels and that it is creating high-quality jobs for all New Zealanders, including in those groups currently under-represented
- By increasing the number of globally successful New Zealand Digital Technologies exporters, with a focus on the intellectual property producing business models of software as a service and interactive media
- By proposing actions that empower Māori to increase their participation in the sector, as business owners, entrepreneurs and in the workforce
- By improving international perceptions of the sector and attracting both local and international investment and talent. It will achieve this by 'crafting and promoting a compelling story that confirms New Zealand's world-class tech and innovation capabilities'
- By ensuring all sectors of the economy gain greater understanding and appreciation of the economic value of data, leading to increased adoption and use of data-driven technologies, including artificial intelligence, with flow-on benefits in terms of reduced emissions and greater productivity
- By defining New Zealand's approach to supporting the ethical adoption of AI, helping grow a thriving AI ecosystem and ensuring the safe adoption and use of AI in New Zealand
- By improving working relationships between the sector and government to ensure procurement delivers fair and accountable outcomes and value for money for New Zealanders. It must also be well regarded domestically and internationally for supporting innovation and the ingenuity of tech companies.
"Creating strong foundations, taking advantage of accelerated growth opportunities, and building Māori participation in the sector are the priorities for this plan," Clark says.
"The industry has made it clear that in order for the sector to grow, it needs to be able to access the right people. Historically there has been a 'skills mismatch'. The key to our future success is training our workforce with the right skills. If we want to train world-class tech experts, they need to be learning from the best."
He points to the Government's decision to relax border requirements for up to 600 overseas-based skilled IT and technology professionals.
"We're honing in on areas including software development, product managers, cyber security and interactive media. An industry commitment to growing local talent is also part of the ITP," says Clark.
"I look forward to hearing from the sector and other interested parties on shaping the final plan so that it achieves success in addressing both the short-term and long-term opportunities and challenges for the sector."
Submissions close 5pm, 31 March 2022. The full plan will also be published later this year. More information is available on MBIE's website.