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Feeling the pinch

Feeling the pinch

Two Australian articles in this week’s issue will be of particular interest to local readers.

The first, on page 8, tells how Australia has issued a record number of visas for temporary skilled professionals in the nine months to March 31, 2007.

In the second, on page 13, Australian research institute NICTA expresses its concerns that Australia is in grave danger of falling off the world stage if it does not commit to growing its ICT industry and addressing the worsening skills crisis.

These developments are of great significance to New Zealand and the local IT industry in particular.

If Australia ups its game and addresses its ICT talent crisis by importing more skills, then New Zealand, among a plethora of other smaller economies, will be an obvious target.

This may be great news on an individual level for those who are tired of interest rate hikes, no personal tax cuts, out-of-control property prices and cold, wet and grey winter days.

Wouldn’t it be great to hop over the ditch where the economy is booming, where we could earn more money and get a year-round suntan at the same time? Judging from the number of people we all know who recently have or are about to do just that, this is a popular option.

However, from the perspective of our readers, many of whom run their own businesses, the prospect is not all that rosy.

After all how do you compete with a lucrative offer made by a multinational who wants to snap up your star performer and whisk them off to an exciting career in Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, or Dublin?

Because we must keep in mind, Australia is not the only country attracting our top minds – the IT skills shortage is a worldwide issue – even India is said to be struggling with a shortage.

So how do we replenish staff that move abroad? Importing our own skills presents its own challenges.

New Zealand immigration laws now make it harder even for people with desperately needed skills to enter the country.

New skilled migrants generally need an offer of employment before they are granted a work permit, but it can take many months before they are granted permanent residency.

This creates a sense of insecurity for the migrants, as well as their employers, because until they can become residents, they can still be told to leave the country.

And, securing jobs before they arrive here is also difficult. Would you employ someone sitting in Johannesburg, Bombay or Beijing who you have never met face-to-face?

Most resellers I talk to say staffing is one of their main issues, and they are not alone – for the past three years MIS magazine’s annual survey of the top 100 IT users in the country revealed this is also their single biggest challenge.

Reseller News will continue to cover this issue in the coming months and it would be great to gain your feedback. Drop me a line at louis@reseller.co.nz and tell me how the skills shortage is affecting your business, what roles are the hardest to fill and which countries you have lost staff to.


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