NZ Fry Up: 30k SMBs signed up for digital skills training; Applications open for new work visas; Next undersea cable to double NZ connectivity

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

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Over 30k SMBs take up govt-funded digital skills training

Over 30,000 small businesses have taken part in a New Zealand government-funded programme to help increase their digital skills.

The Digital Boost programme was launched two years ago to provide government-

funded digital training to SMBs to help them take advantage of digital tools and new opportunities through e-commerce.

Set up as a public-private partnership, Digital Boost was funded to the tune of $44 million from the government’s 2021 budget.

New Zealand’s Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash said in a statement that since 2021, over 48,000 trainees registered for the programme, including over 30,000 small businesses.

He said the initiative have enabled small businesses apply more digital tools to their operations resulting in increased resilience and revenue: “The use of digital tools has enabled Kiwi small businesses to stay connected, grow their channels to market, and drive efficiency and productivity, thereby supporting our economic recovery.”

The next goal for the programme is to have 30,000 small businesses with digital action plans by June 2023, Nash said.

Applications open for new work visas – will it help the tech skills crunch?

Could New Zealand soon be aflood with fresh new tech talent as the government opens work visa applications for people offshore?

Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced last week that the third and final stage of the government’s new Accredited Employer Work Visa  policy had opened, saying it would allow migrants offshore to apply for a work visa to come and work in New Zealand for an accredited employer.

Although the new scheme promises to offer a more simplified pathway for New Zealand organisations to employ migrants, the process certainly appears less than straightforward.

As part of the new policy, employers need to be accredited and have completed a so-called “job check” before they are able to hire a migrant from offshore. Plus, an employer’s job check must be approved before a migrant can apply for a role.

The requirements for having a job check approved include providing evidence of an acceptable job offer, a job description and an employment agreement, as well as proof that the role has been advertised for at least two weeks — if it pays less than twice the median wage or is not on the government’s Green List of occupations.

The good news for those seeking to fill tech roles is that some are on the list including CIOs, project managers, ICT managers, software engineers and security specialists, all of which require a minimum pay rate of $57.69 an hour.

Woods said as of early July 2022, over 5,660 employer accreditation applications have been received since applications opened on 23 May, with just over 4,320 approved so far. Meanwhile, just 732 job check applications have been received since they opened on 20 June.

While the Government says working visa applications are expected to be processed within 20 working days, New Zealand Immigration’s past record is not encouraging. After all slow processing times and delays in work and residence visa approvals were among the reasons the process was overhauled. So only time will tell whether critically needed new tech talent will trickle rather than stream into the country.

Latest undersea cable to double NZ international connectivity

Southern Cross Cables had lit up its latest undersea cable which it says more than doubles New Zealand’s direct international connectivity capability to the USA.

Taking just over two years to complete, the Next cable will boost the capacity of Southern Cross network by about 500%, to around 100 terabits/second, the company announced.

Southern Cross claims the Next cable would allow half petabyte of data to be transferred in 111 seconds.

The new cable uses networking systems, services, and software from Ciena’s GeoMesh Extreme.

Southern Cross also claims to have successfully tested 400 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) services across 15,840km of its network — saying this is the longest single span 400GbE services achieved on a submarine cable network to date. It aims to introduce 400GbE services between Sydney, Auckland and Los Angeles, with more announcements to come “in the near future”.

The Southern Cross Next cable also provides the first international submarine fibre connections to Tokelau and Kiribati, and boosts connectivity for Fiji.

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