New arrivals capitalising on Wellington IT peer group

An informal network is helping immigrants and returning expats get jobs and make contacts in the capital

In July, Englishman Dan Bovenzi signed up with The Wellies, a group for those heading to the capital with the intention of getting a job in IT. He made contact with Wellies member Tom Le Grice and landed a job at Gen-i (where Tom also works) shortly after arriving in the capital in September.

That’s one example of the benefits of belonging to The Wellies, Le Grice says, although he hastens to add that Bovenzi’s situation isn’t typical of all contacts made through the group.

“While members will be able to advertise jobs at their companies on our site, we’re not seeking to displace recruitment agencies”.

On the contrary, directing newcomers to recruitment firms is just as likely to be a part of The Wellies’ advice, as is telling recent arrivals about suburbs, schools and other aspects of life in the capital, he says.

The Wellies was first established a year ago and is aimed both at immigrants coming to Wellington from overseas and returning New Zealanders. Most of its 140 members are immigrants.

Britain is the most represented country in the list of nationalities of Wellies members, but there are also members from the US, Canada, the Philippines and many other nations.

Part of The Wellies’ offering is a monthly meeting at a Wellington pub, and while it is an opportunity for informal networking, there will be a programme of guest speakers at the meetings this year, Le Grice says.

“I’m looking at getting [people from] vendors and government departments to speak.”

The Wellies has received support from the Wellington City Council and the Wellington Regional Council, and also from Gen-i, says Le Grice.

He says Wellington is set for a busy year IT-wise, with many contracts coming up “and there’s not enough people to fill them all”.

There is a lot of work going on that was delayed during the lull in the early 2000s, he says.

“There are projects that have been delayed as long as possible, but can no longer be — you have to do web-enablement and so forth.”

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