The Information Technology Association of New Zealand has backed government plans to attract a further 10,000 skilled immigrants to New Zealand.
Immigration minister Lianne Dalziel hopes the country can attract 27,000 skilled migrants a year, up 60% on 1999.
The government plans to target migrants categorised as having business and other professional skills the country wants. It will also ease the English language requirement for those with the right skills and will let spouses and partners also work.
Recently, it allowed ITANZ to issue special letters so skilled and experienced IT staff could gain entry without formal qualifications (see ITANZ supports unqualified IT workers). A pilot study of employer-generated work permits is also under way in Auckland.
ITANZ executive director Jim O'Neill says the government move was "exactly" what New Zealand needed to tackle the skills shortage in IT professionals.
The US, Australia, and European countries were changing their entry requirements to seek people with vital IT skills and O'Neill says he is particularly pleased to see the NZ Immigration Service working with ITANZ on the issue, such as with recruitment missions to India.
The government's e-commerce summit had increased the take-up of e-business and legislation such as the Electronic Transactions Bill would also drive demand for scarce IT workers, he says.
"It is reassuring that the government is being pro-active in the matter and the stance of the immigration service suggests that in partnership with industry a bold effort will be made to address the need," says O'Neill.