What’s happening in Canterbury’s tech scene?

Guest article by Canterbury Tech Sponsor and Crescent Consulting Principal Heidi Griffiths

If you are working in the local tech industry you are most likely aware that, due to Covid19, the already desperate skills shortage in all technology areas has been worsened by closed borders and the government moving at a snail pace in processing work and resident visas for people who are already in the country. As a result of that, the demand for tech skills has reached a critical level where we as a tech community need to prepare for the worst still to come.

As part of New Zealand’s response to Covid-19, net migration has plunged 93 per cent in the past year, taking with it access to skilled migrant talents to plug the gaps.

What we see already in the market is that worldwide demand determines the price of supply of technical talents. Tech Talents are moving out of their local positions to accept WFH offers from large overseas companies with salary packages 3 times their local salary and they have the flexibility to work when and where they like. Currently, this is happening across the board and if you are an employer of tech staff, your people have likely been already approached by overseas tech giants or will be soon.

If you have a long term plan to deliver projects that involve not only technical skills but also suppliers of technology services and equipment, you are well advised to factor into your plans that there will be both, major delays in delivery and exaggerated costs to get the skills and supplies you need.

So what can we do to prevent the worst? At least how can we start now influencing what we can’t change in future?

Looking at what we have got right now and developing these talents is a good start.  Compromising on what we think we need right now in terms of technical skills and looking at how we can get existing staff to develop these desired skills may mean we have to make do with a slower production right now but overall we will be able to deliver faster (the alternative is to not have these skills at all).   We have some awesome talents in the tech community that need our attention and nurturing and instead of losing them to overseas companies, give them a chance and provide them with the tools and space to become what we want them to be.

Also, look at our next generation of tech talents who are currently sitting in their last years of High School and have no idea what they want to be when they enter the workforce.

Crescent has been working with local High Schools to increase the awareness of technical careers (specifically for women) and not to our surprise unless parents or siblings are working in the tech industry, not many women have even considered a career path in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing) areas.

A recent presentation we did at Rangi Ruru Girls High School to Year 12 and 13 students created a strong interest in a mentorship programme as well as ‘shadow tech’ days. We successfully connected Year 13 Students with local companies for a ‘shadow tech’ day and we are currently working on a mentorship ‘speed dating’ event where we bring together Women in the Tech industry with students who would like to find out more about careers in tech.

So, if you know of a young person in your network or family that is soon coming to a point where they need to decide on a career path (that may be as soon as Year 9 High School as preparation can start there) or someone open to a change of career, open their minds and let them into the secret that tech is not for geeks but an exciting career path that provides long term job security.

You may even think of sponsoring an upcoming talent through tertiary education, stay with them as a mentor and have them join your company as a loyal employee once they have graduated. Not too far-fetched considering that in a few years’ time you may not have anyone filling your tech vacancies unless you prepare for it now?

We at Crescent Consulting work in the tech and engineering recruitment market every day and see that it becomes more and more difficult for employers to attract talents. Our mission is to go the extra mile for our clients to not only compete for desired talents but also promote their employer brand ahead of other employers. We also encourage our clients to work with people in their own backyard, look outside the obvious, help develop new talents and networks to promote the ‘not so obvious choices’.