• New research from Datacom has revealed 40 per cent of New Zealanders have considered studying for a career in tech.
  • Despite high levels of interest, tertiary enrolment numbers for technology courses remain low, with Datacom’s research revealing misconceptions around opportunities, skills and career progression in the tech sector.
  • Key misconceptions deterring New Zealanders from a tech career include the belief they do not have the right skills (34 per cent) or that the industry is boring/uninteresting (22 per cent).

Despite 40 per cent of Kiwis saying they have considered studying for a career in technology*, just five per cent of students enrolled in tertiary education in New Zealand are specialising in information technology (IT) courses.  

That’s according to new research from Datacom, which also revealed a series of misconceptions among Kiwis about working in the tech industry.  

Datacom leaders are keen to address the misconceptions and are encouraging tertiary students to consider changing their study options before their courses begin this year, and preparing to join an industry with high earning potential, strong career development opportunities, and a skills gap that has led to significant job openings.  

New Zealand’s digital skills gap is significant, with a million workers needing to be upskilled with better digital capabilities within the next year: 97 per cent of Kiwi businesses say they need to upskill staff, but only 25 per cent are undertaking upskilling.  

Skills gaps are also being compounded by growing demand – about 5,000 new tech roles are being created in New Zealand each year while just 2,000 students are annually taking on IT degrees. The discrepancy is resulting in lost opportunities to grow the country’s tech exports and GDP.   

Datacom’s research revealed Māori and Pasifika respondents showed high levels of interest in studying for a career in technology, with nearly half (49 per cent) saying they have considered it compared with just 40 per cent of New Zealanders generally. But despite this interest, the reality of the industry is that just four per cent of employees are Māori and less than three per cent are Pasifika. 

Justin Gray, Managing Director of Technology Services at Datacom says that while it’s encouraging to see strong interest in the industry, New Zealand needs more students to pursue tech-based tertiary education, including those from diverse backgrounds, to fill the skills gap that the industry is struggling with. 

Datacom's Justin Gray

“The technology industry not only needs more talent, it also needs different perspectives and more diverse thinking to accurately reflect the society it is designing and building products and services for. It’s encouraging to see such a high proportion of Māori and Pasifika indicate interest in tech, but we need to create more pathways to turn that interest into action.”  

Datacom’s research also revealed fewer Kiwi women had considered studying technology, at just 32 per cent. 

“As an industry and a country, we also need to work on how we can encourage more women to pursue tech careers.  While we are seeing positive change and more women getting into tech than ever before, there’s more work to be done to encourage young women to take up tech courses and pursue careers in the industry,” says Justin.  

Datacom is breaking down stereotypes around what it is like to work in the technology industry after the research revealed the key reasons New Zealanders wouldn’t consider working in the industry being that they don’t have the right skills (34 per cent) or that they think it seems boring/uninteresting (22 per cent).  

“It’s incredible to see such a high level of interest in studying technology, but it is disappointing that tertiary enrolment numbers for technology courses remain low, and that seems to come down to these misconceptions about the industry.”  

“The idea that the technology industry is uninteresting comes from misguided stereotypes of what a tech employee looks like – often depicted in popular culture as a person sitting in a dark room in front of a screen of rolling numbers. That is nothing like the reality of the work we get to do. Technology roles in New Zealand are diverse, engaging, and collaborative. Employees create solutions for some of our country’s biggest challenges, utilising technology, creativity, and innovation to develop them. 

“Right now, tertiary students will be gearing up for their first few weeks of new courses, and most will still have the opportunity to change their major if they want to. With thousands of job openings, strong career progression, and the opportunity to work on game-changing projects, the technology industry has so much to offer, and we would encourage more people to think about choosing study options that will set them up to be part of this incredible sector,” concludes Justin.   

*Datacom surveyed 1,017 New Zealanders in February 2023 via research agency, Pure Profile.

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