NZ Fry Up: Tech skills training; Visas aplenty for skilled techies; .nz domain disputes simplified; NZ vs. Australia for 5G speed; Property industry open doors to tech; Fletcher Building’s new CIO

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our correspondent in the Central North Island.

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Tech skills remain in short supply in NZ; vendors offer training

Two recent reports have once again highlighted the dire need for more digital skills in New Zealand, with two global tech giants stepping in to offer training.

Amazon Web Services’ “Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce” report found that 1 million more New Zealand workers will require digital skills training for their jobs in the next year, representing 35% of the workforce.

In response, AWS is launching the re/Start programme, a free, full-time, 12-week program that prepares unemployed, underemployed, and transitioning individuals for careers in cloud computing. 

Meanwhile, Salesforce’s recent Global Digital Skills Index also pointed to a digital skills crisis—and says that the gap is widening. The index revealed New Zealand’s Workplace Digital Skills Readiness Index score is 28. By comparison, India topped the rankings with a score of 63, while Australia and the UK scored 21 and the US scored 36.

The research also found 82% of Kiwis said they are not equipped for the future of work, and 80% are planning to learn new skills in the future. Yet only 20% are very actively involved in workplace digital skills training programmes today.

Salesforce has committed to training 400 New Zealanders in Salesforce skills in partnership with career development agency Mission Ready and with TupuToa, an organisation which aims to develop Māori and Pacific leaders.

AWS’s “Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce” report also showed that New Zealand companies that had invested in digital skills training have seen significant benefits, with 91% reporting improved employee productivity, 86% stating they were able to fast-track their digitisation goals, 79% achieving cost efficiencies, 80% reporting higher employee retention, and 76% seeing increased revenue.

IT skilled help from abroad?

The Information Technology Professionals New Zealand (ITP)’s TechBlog meanwhile reported that while the New Zealand government’s tech-class exception to border restrictions has received strong interest, there are plenty of visas still to be allocated.

The exception allows as many as 600 visas to be issued to highly skilled tech workers. However, rumours that large tech companies had already scooped up the available visas for suitable offshore candidates are unfounded, according to TechBlog, quoting NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller, who addressed an ITP NZ webinar.

“There haven’t been any special deals or mass purchases or anything like that. It’s steady as she goes; they are ticking on a fairly regular basis each week,” Muller is quoted as saying.

.nz domain disputes simplified

The regulator for the .nz domain name space, New Zealand Domain Name Commission Limited (DNCL), has launched an online dispute-resolution platform to help .nz domain name holders resolve .nz domain disputes faster.

According to DNCL, there are about 1,600 conflicted domain names that could be resolved through the platform.

DNCL is piloting the platform to help resolve domain disputes between parties claiming rights to a domain without the need to go to court. It will allow for online submission of issues by the parties. There is an option for e-negotiation between the parties and online mediation through live conferencing with a qualified mediator.

Australia vs. New Zealand: Who has the fastest 5G speed?

New Zealand has the fastest 5G download speed, reaching 253Mbps according to findings from consultancy Opensignal, while Australia comes right after New Zealand at 224Mbps. This is according to data from 10 countries across Asia.

When it comes download speeds in peak hours, Australia is much faster than New Zealand, with 597Mbps being in the top three of the tally, while New Zealand takes No. 7 at 459Mbps.

When it comes to upload speeds, New Zealand comes out ahead again; it takes the No. 6 spot at 20Mbps while Australia takes the No. 8 spot at 15Mbps.

—Samira Sarraf

Property industry becomes more tech-savvy

Yet another report shows those in the New Zealand property industry are becoming more technologically adept—although many still rely on spreadsheets.

The survey of a senior cohort from New Zealand’s property industry—conducted by the Property Council of New Zealand and software company Yardi—found that investment in technology has accelerated across the sector in response to COVID-19. The local industry has also embraced new systems and processes at a faster rate than its Australian counterparts.

According to Property Council New Zealand CEO Leonie Freeman, 95% of respondents said the disruption of COVID-19 had driven adoption of digital technology, with more than two thirds now using cloud-based productivity suites.

Much of this change has been driven by tenants’ shif in expectations. Yardi’s senior regional director, Bernie Devine, said the organisation is seeing building users wanting a building to be more like a device with an engaging user experience.

The report also found 77% of Kiwi property companies use specialist accounting and finance systems, compared with 22% of Australian companies. But with six in 10 respondents are still using spreadsheets to assess the performance of their portfolios, there is still room for improvement.

Fletcher Building names new CIO

Fletcher Building has appointed Joe Locandro as its new CIO, replacing Dan Beecham, who had been in the role since February 2020.

Locandro had previously worked as CIO and CDO roles in Australia, Hong Kong, and the Middle East for more than two decades.

According to Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor, Locandro has been at the forefront of e-commerce for some of the world’s biggest airlines, and his experience in the energy sector has seen him successfully lead the development and delivery of new data platforms and transactional systems. He also has deep experience of ERP implementations.

Beecham decided to remain in Australia for family reasons, according to Fletcher Building.

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