NZTech wants New Zealand to be ‘world’s most tech savvy nation’

Bennett Medary said the tech sector was the nation’s fastest growing industry

The outgoing chair of the New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZTech) wants to see New Zealand recognised within the next five to 10 years for being the world’s most tech savvy country.

Speaking on the occasion of NZTech’s annual meeting, Bennett Medary said the tech sector was the nation’s fastest growing industry.

“We are deeply committed to the vision of a prosperous New Zealand, led by a vibrant tech sector,” he said.

Chief executive, Graeme Muller, said the New Zealand technology landscape was surging ahead. “New Zealand ICT’s contribution to GDP growth has been higher than any other OECD country from 2001 to 2013,” the CEO said.

According to NZTech, the IT sector employs about 100,000 people, and accounts for eight percent of GDP) and over $6.3 billion in exports.

Muller said the organisation was working with other tech-based associations towards signing formal alliances “to build something akin to the Star Alliance of tech in New Zealand.”

“Our biggest project this year was Digital Nation New Zealand, a major economic impact study which took more than six months of research and provides a solid foundation for further initiatives,” Muller said.

“Most significant of these is the Digital Nation website, showcasing cool New Zealand tech companies and cool uses of technology in New Zealand. The project has opened discussion with government agencies on how best to promote New Zealand internationally as a leading tech country.”

Also, Muller said NZTech was working with the Institute of IT Professionals, the Ministry of Education and others to help accelerate the introduction of computational thinking throughout New Zealand schools.

“This is critical as most jobs in most sectors will have an enormous tech component. Children at school now will need skills of computational thinking, managing data, complex problem solving and being able to get computer systems to do what they need.”

He described the government’s recently announced plan to add computer skills into the curriculum as only a small first step. “Ultimately schools, principals and teachers need to prioritise its introduction and teaching and this will take significant government investment. The pace is woefully slow, yet the pace of technology change is incredibly fast.”

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