NZ skills expo a success: participants

Local firms seeking tech workers at a UK skills fair sparked a lot of interest, but one British ICT magazine isn't so keen on New Zealand's talent-seeking

New Zealand’s attempt to attract skilled workers from overseas at the Opportunities New Zealand Expo in the UK in mid-October was very successful, according to Helen Vincent of Small World Media, the local firm that organised the expo.

Over 10,000 locals visited the expo, where 52 New Zealand companies exhibited, says Vincent. “We got a fantastic response. For instance, Telecom says it [has got] 200 CVs and 40 top-quality prospects as a result of the expo,” she says.

The majority of the visitors were highly qualified and some well into the migration process, Vincent says.

Last year, 9% of the expo visitors were coming to New Zealand within three months, she says. Another 27% were coming in six months, and 30% were coming in six-to-twelve months.

“This year, a lot of the visitors had been to the expo last year and were [now] further down their migration progress and committed to launching [a career] in New Zealand,” she says.

Local recruitment firm absoluteIT made some real finds at the expo. “We have got around 50 highly qualified candidates, that we interviewed in London, [who] will be here over the Christmas period,” says Grant Burley, director of absoluteIT.

Within weeks of the expo, the firm’s clients were interviewing candidates, he says.

In partnership with CXC (Consultants Exchange), absoluteIT is offering a new global product, Go Contracting, designed to assist people who want to do contract work but don’t want the hassle of running their own business.

AbsoluteIT takes care of all the administration behind the business, including for example invoicing, accounting, tax calculation and expenses, and the contractor pays for these services only when he or she is working.

“[This service] helps us reach people [who] never considered contracting before,” says Burley. “It brings in new talent [to the industry].”

There was significant interest around the product at the expo, he says.

But not everyone is thrilled. An article in IT Week in the UK suggests that New Zealand’s plan to recruit skilled workers from the UK could fuel the skills crisis there.

New Zealand is targeting British tech workers and this is likely to infuriate recruitment and training agencies there, says the article.

Vincent makes no apologies for organising the expo, however. “It’s a global market,” she says. “From our perspective, this is our chance to get in front of [thousands of UK ICT staff] and get our first pick.”

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