NZ Fry Up: Try this tactic to fill those tech jobs; NZ telco revenues too little?

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our editor in Auckland.

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Want to get graduates into actual NZ tech jobs? Try this

If you’re in the market for IT talent (and it seems that just about everybody is) the current lockdown won’t have helped, but while the short-term solution is remote workers and the medium-term solution is importing talent, the long-term solution is surely growing tech capability in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are plenty of initiatives and interest groups working on getting kids interested in tech, so the issue is maybe what happens after they make it through the education system—how do they get hired? As Digital Communications Minister David Clark told a TUANZ conference earlier this month: “I think what we all should acknowledge in this room, and I think what everybody would acknowledge through the research that’s been done, is that we do need to do things differently in the future. We do need to make sure we are skilling up New Zealanders to have the skills that we need for our country.”

So why do employers tend to favour midgrade and senior-grade IT professionals, and not invest more in graduates? It’s a question Computerworld New Zealand put to Fonterra CIO Toby Granwal.

“I think about it from a Fonterra context, as a microcosm of some of the challenges that we have as a nation. The IT landscape that we have today is highly customised, a lot of SAP, a lot of on-premises, and therefore it lends itself to needing people who’ve worked 10 to 20 years as a functional consultant for SAP to be able to do hands-on coding and customisation,” he says.

But, as organisations undergo digital transformations (and you can read more about Fonterra’s transformation over at CIO New Zealand), that will change. As Granwal explains, “Deep cloud infrastructure skills are not something you can get overnight, but there is a big opportunity for a cadre of relatively young people to fill that classic business analyst role, to act as a translator between the technology and the business.”

As the nature of software changes, the digitally native generations coming through have an almost intrinsic tech knowledge that previous generations didn’t possess. “Some of the people we have working for us in data science, machine learning, algorithms, they’re not 30-something, let alone 40- to 50-something—they’re 20-something.”

Granwal has discussed with CIO colleagues and Fonterra’s strategic IT partners how, as an industry, they can take a different approach to building tech capability. One of the ideas is two create postgraduate programmes across organisations, so the IT graduate spends six months the client side with an organisation such as Fonterra, six months with a vendor such as Microsoft or Amazon Web Services, six months with professional service firms such as PwC and EY, and so on.

“There is a NZ Inc play: Why can’t we overinvest and carry 10, 20, 30 graduates every year, knowing that a number of people will leave and work elsewhere? The actual staff costs of these people are relatively low, but we at Fonterra can’t do it on our own. Part of the challenge is that lots of people have lots of different ideas, and I think we need to move from talking to how we could make this a reality,” Granwal says.

Telco revenues—too much or too little?

Meanwhile over in telecommunications, its industry body the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum, or TCF as they like to be called (and no, the name doesn’t match the acronym), has released its annual report. It includes plenty of triumphant graphs showing how good the sector is for New Zealand and, to be fair, plenty of us can carry on in the lockdown because of their networks (and the government-backed UFB and RBI). But are the telcos being properly compensated for their labours?

How should we interpret this comment in the TCF's report:

The latest Commerce Commission industry monitoring report shows the industry has invested $15.7 billion over the past decade, yet in that same period industry revenue has remained essentially flat (at around $5 billion per year). Our members face ongoing challenges to achieve the necessary financial returns to invest in even better networks and services for the future, as their customers and indeed all New Zealanders rightfully expect.

Is the telco industry feeling underappreciated or are they signalling a price rise. Maybe both, maybe neither.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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