NZ expects UK IT rush

An influx of British IT workers with experience of large-scale implementations is expected in the coming months following a New Zealand immigration expo in London.

An influx of British IT workers with experience of large-scale implementations is expected in the coming months following a New Zealand immigration expo in London.

Four thousand would-be immigrants and returning Kiwis attended the New Zealand Jobs and Futures Fair late last month, about double last year’s turnout, with many travelling from Scotland and Ireland.

Scott Mathieson of Auckland-based publisher Working-In, which part-owns the event, credits the substantial increase in British attendees to better targeting of the event’s potential market. The British made up some 60% of attendees, a reversal of last year, when returning Kiwis made up the bulk.

Mathieson says ICT workers were the biggest sector, at about a third, and almost 90% of the would-be immigrants and returnees had tertiary-level qualifications.

“Under the new points system that focuses on job offers, Britain could soon be the number one source of immigrants again. It could be difficult for people from other nations to get job offers,” he says.

New Zealand Immigration Service figures show the UK trailling China and India as our top sources of immigrants overall, but the Information Technology Association (ITANZ) believes the UK remains the country’s top source of IT workers. The ITANZ view is based on those seeking “letters of support” in lieu of formal qualifications when they seek residency or work permits. South Africa and Zimbabwe come behind the UK.

“Overall, it’s still the Brits who are the top in seeking support,” says ITANZ executive director Jim O’Neill.

New Zealand IT recruiters at the London show included Duncan Ryan & Associates and IT Maniacs.

Wellington-based recruiter Bruce Duncan says many of the British show visitors had skills in niche and high-end areas. They included experience at the software architecture level, with Java and Microsoft technologies, and in security, including Linux-based security.

“There are some good quality people coming over, but we won’t be inundated,” he says.

IT Maniacs, of Auckland, contacted many IT workers with experience in implementing big projects, including at the ITIL best-practice protocol level, a skill director Laurel Gillan says is not found here.

Her UK-born business partner, Sarah Lee, also found potential immigrants with skill in .Net, IBM Websphere, Linux and SAP, and coming from employers as diverse as big media companies, Formula One racing teams and 10 Downing Street (home of the prime minister).

Mathieson says “almost 100%” of the British want to come to New Zealand for lifestyle reasons, while for returning Kiwis, “family and friends” are the driver.

Lower New Zealand salaries are not a disincentive as people realise the country has a lower cost of living. Terrorism fears are less often given as a reason for the move, he says.

People are mostly keen on living in Auckland, but there is growing interest in the South Island, thanks partly to Dunedin City Council, West Coast councils and Venture Southland promoting their regions at the event, Mathieson says.

Ian Smith, a Wellington-based spokesman for the New Zealand Immigration Service, says the NZIS stand at the fair was again “very busy”.

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