Seeking Job Security & High Wages?

Posted by: Marc

Job Security & High Wages - Software Programmer

Since 2013, New Zealand’s unemployment rate has been bouncing between 5-7%, settling bang in the middle at 6% at the end of Q3 in 2015. In most industries, it’s an employers market, with hiring managers able to pick and choose from a large pool of job seekers. There is a notable exception. The digital/ICT sector is suffering a drought of qualified candidates. So pronounced is the shortage of homegrown ICT skilled workers that software companies are increasingly hiring from offshore or conducting research and development overseas.

It’s been estimated that the number of digital jobs are expected to grow between 23-53% over the next decade. High demand, great pay and creative opportunities mean that now is a good time to consider a job in the digital industry.

According to the most recent Occupation Outlook report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, job prospects for software developers and ICT technicians are very good. For ICT business and systems analysts, they’re practically foolproof. Demand in these fields has consistently outstripped the number of suitable graduates, and both occupations are mainstays of Immigration New Zealand’s list of long-term skill shortages. That means the country is actively encouraging skilled workers from overseas to fill vacancies.

To demonstrate just how bright the future is for workers with these skill sets, let’s crunch some government data:

As of 2013, 71% of people with a Bachelor’s degree in information systems were employed within a year of graduation (compared with 54% qualified in other industries). The estimated average income for ICT business and systems analysts was $73,100, and graduates were earning an average of $40,200 one year after their studies were complete (our own experience of recruiting graduate roles in the ICT sector this year suggests that the average entry level salary is much higher, coming in at $51,200). After five years, average income had increased to $58,400. With the average cost of a three year BA in Computer Science working out to $18,500, and demand for ICT-skilled workers expected to remain high over the next decade, you don’t need to flex your analyst muscles too much to spot the potential. If the world of ICT interests you, now is the time to take action, while entry level salaries are so favourable.

If your ambitions extend beyond mere averages, the figures start looking very attractive. A quick search on seek.co.nz reveals more than 80 jobs listed at pay rates of $100k+. For short term contracts, day rates go as high as $1500. Such sums are not unusual for the industry. According to Paul Matthews, head of the Institute of IT Professionals:

“The skills shortage today is as bad as it’s ever been, which is a crazy situation when you consider overall unemployment. But we have a significant problem attracting people with the right skills into the industry.”

Matthews – interviewed for the NZ Herald – identifies the industry’s image as a ‘geek-only’ domain as a big part of the problem. Ministry of Education figures show the number of students finishing computer science degrees has been falling since 2005, indicative of a real perception problem among young learners. That may be changing. Future-focused school districts are expanding their curriculums to teach digital technology as an achievement standard under the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) – a significant improvement on the low-level computing courses currently offered by most authorities.

But if anything can refresh the public image of ICT, and encourage a new generation of homegrown talent to break through, it’s the bountiful job opportunities and eye-watering salaries currently going begging in New Zealand.


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Marc is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads our IT recruitment practice. Originally from the UK, Marc has been living in Christchurch, New Zealand for ten years and working in the recruitment sector for just as long. Marc has worked as an in-house recruiter and within multinational recruitment consultancies and independent SME recruitment businesses.

At The Talent Hive we specialise in connecting IT & Engineering professionals with the right career opportunities. We encourage collaboration, socialising your success and sharing industry insight and expertise. Start the journey, connect with The Talent Hive today.


Categorised as: IT, Job Seeker Advice