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TECH CAREER: Company-X senior analyst developer Darren Harrison, left, with colleague Arno van Niekerk.

Choosing a career can be a tough time for teens. Decisions made before reaching adulthood impact the rest of their lives, writes Company-X director David Hallett.

Technology is disrupting the workplace so much that we can’t be certain whether jobs that are here today will not be gone tomorrow.

The information technology (IT) sector is at the heart of the disruption. Not only is it likely to get stronger, as it continues to transform, but there is a global shortage in all walks of tech.

New Zealand is no different to anywhere else in the world, but the Kiwi can-do attitude puts our technology professionals head and shoulders above the international competition. Anyone who puts their mind to a career in IT in New Zealand will not only be set up for life but could earn well if they are among the best in their field.

Company-X recently opened its doors to Scouts from St Columba’s and St Peter’s Scout groups in Frankton and Melville, Hamilton. Senior developer Marcel van de Steeg encouraged more than 40 Scouts to do their computer badge by showing them fun technology he had built especially for their visit. At the heart of his presentation was a ping pong ball firing robot which captured their imaginations and had nearly every Scout in the room express an interest in a planned coding camp. Hopefully, this will result in Scouts completing their computer badge and considering a career in IT.

The same goes for the technology faculty students of Hamilton Boys’ High School who Marcel recently visited. Marcel taught the high school students how to write their own computer games, how to publish them and how to market them online. Marcel’s involvement at Boys’ High is part of the Secondary School-Employer Partnership (SSEP) led by the Smart Waikato Education Business Network.

“Evidently, the supply of digitally skilled talent for the New Zealand economy is insufficient,” said the Digital Skills for a Digital Nation report published by the Digital Skills Forum early this year.

“Given this is a global issue too, we cannot rely on immigration to fill future skills gaps. More focus needs to be placed on developing a strong domestic pipeline of talent through our education system and other education initiatives.”

The forum’s solution was to build the talent pipeline through ten steps which we, at Company-X, thoroughly support. Those steps are:

  1. Make sure every child is exposed to digital technologies
  2. Help all Kiwis to understand the importance of digital skills
  3. Increase the numbers studying advanced digital skills
  4. Actively encourage a more diverse group of Kiwis into digital technology
  5. Undertake a programme of constant digital attraction
  6. Develop and promote pathways into digital tech roles
  7. Develop a platform to support internships
  8. Develop programmes to support re-entry to work
  9. Create upskilling programmes for those likely to be hit by automation
  10. Educate the market on importance of training and development

In my opinion, all of this, so far as New Zealand is concerned, needed to happen yesterday.