IT community becomes a family of nations

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! They are, in fact, but increasingly so are the Indians, the Chinese and other Asians.

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! They are, in fact, but increasingly so are the Indians, the Chinese and other Asians.

New Zealand's IT community is becoming culturally diverse with recruits from an increasingly exotic range of countries. Kiwi recruitment consultants says they are trawling their nets ever wider to plug the nation's skills gap.

Statistics New Zealand has few figures at hand, but Asia is now the biggest source of permanent and long-term arrivals to the country - with a flow bigger than Europe. In the year to November 2000, Asian arrivals rocketed 18% to 19,522, with China supplying 5842 (up 67.5%), India 2437 (up 68%) and Korea 1061 (up 57% on the previous year).

Europe supplied 17,522 long-term and permanent arrivals, down slightly, with 14,056 arrivals from the UK (down 0.1%), 544 from Germany (up 1.3%), 418 from Ireland (up 23%) and 407 from the Netherlands (up 12%). North America supplied 3583 new arrivals in the year to November (up 6%), mostly from the US. Some 2341 came from South Africa (down 6.2%). Overall, New Zealand welcomed 63,061 new arrivals in the year (up 7%), but Statistics New Zealand was unable to supply employment breakdowns on a country basis.

However, a few weeks ago Morgan and Banks reported a fifth of employers were hiring IT staff from overseas, with India supplying 11% of them - almost as many as from traditional sources such as the UK, mainland Europe, Australia and South Africa.

David Newark of recruitment firm IT Futures says Kiwi employers are now more comfortable with a more cosmopolitan workforce. Overseas workers are increasingly using the net to find work here, making it easier for recruiters to locate them. Alongside, the New Zealand government several months ago eased access to the country for IT workers. The net means job applications now come in from "all over", Newark says, but those from "First World" countries were more likely to get visas.

Barry O"Brien of Enterprise confirms IT staff come from "everywhere". Many are from the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, China, Britain, South Africa and Zimbabwe, plus "heaps and heaps" from India.

Each week his agency receives several hundred overseas requests a week and usually 50 foreigners are already in the country. "India is becoming a major source of software developers. Russians seem to be mathematically orientated while Indians are more into applications than software engineering. China produces more software engineers and technical programmers.

"There are more and more every year - hundreds nationally - and coming from more exotic countries. If they have the right skills, it's not really a problem [getting in]," O'Brien says.

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