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Govt to ease border restrictions for 600 skilled tech workers

By Sara Barker, Mon 13 Dec 2021

The Government is easing border restrictions for up to 600 skilled workers to help keep New Zealand’s technology sector afloat.

Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark, announced this morning that the Government will issue border class exceptions for 600 ‘much-needed’ specialists in technology.

According to Clark, the tech sector is now in the country’s top three export sectors. He adds that the tech labour market has been growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy, particularly during the pandemic.

This, Clark says, has put pressure on the demand for tech skills and the exceptions will relieve some of the pressure while supporting the sector’s growth.

“We’re carefully targeting areas of the sector where industry has highlighted a clear need for overseas talent including, software development, product managers, cybersecurity and interactive media.”

“For the last two years, the Government has been working closely with the tech sector on addressing the key opportunities and challenges facing the industry. At the top of the list is a mismatch between the skills available domestically and what the sector requires.”

He notes that it is a ‘balancing act’ to minimise risk from COVID-19 and to support the economy. He points to other countries that have opened borders ‘too early’ and had to close again.

“Resolving the skills mismatch is crucial for the tech sector to grow. However, Government also realises the development of tech skills within New Zealand is fundamental for the industry to realise its potential,” he says.

An Industry Transformation Plan between the Government and the tech sector will underpin further developments. 

“The sector has made a commitment to invest in developing domestic talent, rather than relying on overseas talent to fill the gaps,” says Clark.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the industry on how to ensure the education system is supporting this, by delivering the skills that the New Zealand industry needs.”

The Government will release further details about the border exception process in 2022.

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