If New Zealand raises its education outcomes over a period of 20 years to a level comparable with Finland, it can generate a 204% increase in GDP worth an additional $US258 billion, says Graeme Muller, NZTech chief executive.
Technology is driving changes in the way Kiwis work and the skills required for work, he says.
He was commenting today on the open letter 100 leading New Zealand companies and organisations have just published, saying that not all students wanting to work in tech have to go to university.
Muller says while education is critical for developing specific skills, the value of experiences, developed on the job or through life, can be equally important.
“This initiative by the 100 big companies and organisations is really about raising awareness for the public that technology is opening up all sorts of opportunities for our kids and just because they don't have a degree doesn't mean there aren't huge opportunities out there.
“Tech firms have had to face skills shortages for a number of years and have found many critical skills can be successfully learnt on the job, university degrees are obviously still important for the development of certain skills.
“But with the way technology is changing jobs means there are many ways to develop needed skills, and as soon as you remove the preconception that everyone needs a degree you can tap into lots of new talent.”
Muller says the global Network Readiness Index, an important measure of digital readiness, has New Zealand ranked 17th in the world, but well behind digital leaders such as Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Scandinavian countries.
“Measuring a range of economic, social and technology factors, the index is serving as a good proxy for what is important for a digital nation and I hope New Zealand is moving in the right direction on the list. Tech is crucial to New Zealand’s future.”
The tech sector is now New Zealand’s third largest exporter and is growing fast.
It contributes over $16 billion to GDP and employs 100,000 people.
But it’s not just about the tech sector as new digital technologies are driving economic and social change.
Muller says the introduction of digital technologies to the New Zealand education curricula from 2018 for all ages from year one to 13 is a great step toward helping prepare the future workforce for the future jobs that will be highly digital.
“As technology becomes more pervasive we are already seeing the demand for tech skills accelerate across all sectors. This demand, plus the rapid growth of the tech sector means the number of job opportunities in tech continues to grow."