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Kiwi tech talent connects in Texas

25 Feb 2014

The CEO of one of New Zealand’s fastest growing software companies is praising New Zealand’s involvement in the South by Southwest (SXSW) trade show in Austin, Texas and the follow up online TechConnect event, as much-needed initiatives to attract more tech talent to New Zealand.

The SXSW trade show in Austin, Texas next month is expected to attract around 70,000 people over four days.

Immigration New Zealand, NZTE and the New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZTech) who are spearheading a New Zealand private and public sector presence at the show, see it as a perfect opportunity to promote New Zealand as a place to work and invest, particularly in the rapidly-growing technology sector.

Grow Wellington will be joining the New Zealand contingent flying the flag as the high-tech capital with the greatest number of New Zealand’s fastest growing high-tech businesses located in Wellington.

“Attracting tech talent is critical to the ongoing strength of Wellington’s dynamic and innovative tech sector,” says Gerard Quin, CEO, Grow Wellington.

This is a view shared by NZTech members, including Will Palmer, CEO of Movio, a New Zealand based high tech company based in New Zealand with offices in the US.

They have grown by almost 400% over the last 12 months and CEO Will Palmer expects continued high growth over the next year.

“We’ve grown from 7 to 27 in our team in the last year and I expect we’ll double in size within the next year, but we are struggling to find skilled developers,” Palmer says.

Movio, who crunch big audience data to deliver insights for the film industry and cinemas for more effective marketing, is desperate for big data developers who are qualified in Java, Scala, Cassandra, Hadoop, Mahout and other development languages.

As well as developers, Movio is looking to attract people qualified in automated testing, security, infrastructure and solution architects.

The organiser of the TechConnect event is Jonny Wyles, MD of Workhere New Zealand.

Wyles says there’s ample proof of the skills shortage in the tech sector with 32 companies already signed up for the online event to be held at the end of March, a number he expects to grow beyond 50.

Wyles is joining the mission to SXSW and is enthusiastic about profiling kiwi companies to the thousands who will see the New Zealand stand at the popular show.

As a result, he expects to generate a data base of qualified and interested candidates who would like to learn more about moving to New Zealand and he’s hopeful they’ll then sign up to be involved in the TechConnect event at the end of March.

“The shortage of skilled tech talent is a very real threat to the explosive growth in the New Zealand tech sector,” adds Candace Kinser, CEO, NZTech.

“Technology is the fastest growing sector in New Zealand, but we are not keeping up with the appetite and need for qualified talent through producing it here alone.”

Kinser adds that while the tech sector is the fastest growing sector in New Zealand the skills shortage impacts all sectors, she’s encouraged by the joint initiative between her association, private firms and the government agencies Immigration New Zealand and NZTE.

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