ITP Digital Skills Plan

Paul Matthews, CEO of ITPNZ has released the “Plan for Digital Tech Skills and Talent”:

An excerpt the introductory blog post:

The report includes 24 evidence-based conclusions, before focusing in on the 10 groups of Actions we need to take to unblock the pipeline:

  • Action 1: A strong strategic focus on reskilling and upskilling
  • Action 2: Rapidly expand pathway options to industry
  • Action 3: Refine the Immigration system to be more targeted
  • Action 4: Industry to step up and lead the transformation
  • Action 5: Māori to be a crucial partner in skills
  • Action 6: Expand the Tech Story to a local audience
  • Action 7: An All-of-Government strategic approach to skills
  • Action 8: Increased support for digital tech learning in schools
  • Action 9: Radically re-defined standardised job “roles”
  • Action 10: Strengthen the tech sector through greater diversity

The rationale, detail and initiatives under each of these are contained in the report, and it’s also clear that there is no silver bullet - the only way we can actually fix the skills problem is by addressing all of these areas.

Two immediate areas that come out of this, contained in Actions 1 and 2, are getting more strategic about reskilling and upskilling, and more pathways to industry - such as Apprenticeships, Apprenticeship Degrees, and expanded opportunities for Internships.

The Immigration System comes under the spotlight in Action 3. Immigration is crucial for our industry and likely always will be, however the pre-Covid level (around 55% of all new roles in tech) had become unsustainable, and our industry is being damaged now by the fact we can’t maintain anything near that rate in a Covid environment.

More immigration is the short-term answer, but it can’t be the long-term one. It’s abundantly clear that local talent development - both in terms of the pathways into our industry (through school, tertiary, other professions etc) and of developing the people in our industry now, is crucial to scalability. This will be hard, as it partly means industry taking a more mature approach to talent development than the current practice of just trying to “buy in” the skills we need, when we need them, via immigration or competitors.

This is partly why the industry can’t just leave it to Government, or sit back and throw stones at the education sector - we need to be the change we want to see (as per Action 4).

Action 5 focuses on the role Māori should play in our industry, and how the current approach really has failed Māori. Look no further than the participation rates of Māori in our industry to see what we mean. We think it’s important for Māori to be in charge of their own destiny, and that will mean both structural and cultural change in our industry.

Actions 6 look at how we market ourselves as an industry and calls for us to get organised about it, to attract more great people into our great profession. A lot of this work has already started and we’re seeing some great strategic alignment across the industry as we look to how we “sell” our industry to the next generation.

Action 7 looks at the role Government itself can play, as the largest employer of tech talent in New Zealand (notwithstanding the fractured nature of Government agencies), and Action 8 focuses on what needs to happen to lift the quality of digital tech education and awareness in schools. Some great discussions happening in this space too.

Action 9 looks at how we interpret roles and jobs in our industry, with a plan around defining roles from both a skills-basis (in ways that align with other sectors) and also in a way that helps people from all backgrounds understand what skills they may actually have. Obviously every company will do their own thing; but if we use a common framework (SFIA) and there’s strong guidance around role definitions, it will help our industry as a whole get on top of skills development faster.

And last but certainly not least, Action 10 looks at diversity through a few different lenses. This is an area we don’t particularly shine in whichever lens we look through, whether it be cultural diversity, gender diversity, or even experience and thought diversity. We also have massive opportunities around those with disabilities and the opportunity to harness some tremendous talent with far less downside than many employers seem to think.