NZICT sets the direction to advance the Hi-Tech sector

Published: Mon 20 Dec 2010 10:25 AM
December 20, 2010
NZICT sets the direction to advance the Hi-Tech sector and grow export earnings, productivity and employment
The ICT and Hi-Tech sector has the opportunity to transform New Zealand’s prosperity through export growth and domestic economic productivity improvements.
At a time when New Zealand faces an increasing cash deficit, the 2011 Near Future Digital Priorities presentation released today by the NZICT Group, targets significant economic growth opportunities.
NZICT Group represents over 300 companies in the ICT and Hi-Tech sectors.  The Group’s aspirations for the industry in 2011 will follow four main strategic goals:
-          Stimulate social and economic change through broadband connectivity
-          Maximise ICT and Hi-Tech employment opportunities for young New Zealanders
-          Support Government productivity and innovation through clear communication of the roadmap and opportunities
-          Build a sustainable high quality domestic ICT industry and grow the sector to be the largest export earner
The New Zealand Institute estimates that the national economic benefits from broadband range from $2.7-4.4 billion a year.
“The Government’s broadband initiatives will underpin positive change both socially and economically.
Ultra-fast and rural broadband will drive benefits across a range of sectors, including business, health and education through the implementation of smart technology,” says NZICT CEO Brett O’Riley.
“NZICT will lead the facilitation and support of rural, urban and international opportunities that will drive broadband demand in NZ through a range of programs.  Speed of implementing the new fibre networks is going to be critical so we maximise the opportunity to jump start areas of the economy,” says O’Riley.
NZICT also believes the Hi-Tech sector can become New Zealand’s highest export earner.  According to the Technology Investment Network Report 2010, the top NZ 100 technology companies accounted for 10% of goods and services exports in 2009 ($5b) compared to dairy’s $8b.
The NZ ICT industry has a huge opportunity to capitalise on the Free Trade Agreement with China and trade relations with other countries. China, which is a country with 318 million internet users and 726 mobile connections, is a country bursting with opportunity for NZ ICT firms.
“In order to improve our ICT export status, we need to develop a highly skilled workforce, expand capital markets that support business expansion and improve our firms’ internationalisation capability,” says O’Riley.
Government use and procurement of ICT is integral to the industry. The Government spends around $2 billion a year on ICT procurement, which is an important part of the domestic ICT market. It is also fundamental that the Government acts as an exemplar of ICT procurement and implementation to encourage local companies to invest in IP development that can be taken to export markets.  Government’s use of ICT will also facilitate the private sector to use similar technology to drive their productivity.
“NZICT will provide leadership in the Government Procurement Reform Strategy group and other advisory groups. It will also provide input as appropriate to the Government regarding its ICT directions and priorities to drive efficiency and social cohesion,” says O’Riley.
Fundamental to this growth is a strong focus on skills development.
“We will be undertaking two major initiatives to address the skills crisis our industry is facing.  Our Jobs Partnership will facilitate young New Zealanders into training and internships with guaranteed employment as a prospect.
“We believe our industry has the ability to generate thousands of highly paid jobs each year.  Our Skills Working Group will undertake more long-term capability planning and look at issues such as tertiary funding and the required number of skilled workers,” said O’Riley.
“The ICT and Hi-Tech industry is on the precipice of unprecedented change. Working with Government and other related associations and stakeholders, NZICT is ready to lead and facilitate this change,” he says.
In 2011, NZICT will take the following leadership positions:
·          Lead the facilitation and support of rural, urban and international opportunities that will drive broadband demand.
·          Coordinate education and training initiatives for small and medium businesses to smartly use ICT.
·          Jointly lead the Hi-Tech Skills Working Group with the University of Canterbury to develop a sustainable workforce.
·          Jointly lead the Hi-Tech Jobs Partnership providing a clearing house for potential employers, employees, educators, Computer Clubhouse and trainers to drive youth employment.
·          Provide leadership in the Government procurement process including the Procurement Reform Strategy group and other advisory groups.
·          Provide input as appropriate to the Government regarding its ICT directions and priorities to drive efficiency and social cohesion.
·          Provide leadership in the development of smart infrastructure for our towns and cities.
·          Lead the RWC2011 promotional opportunity for the ICT and Hi-Tech industry including staging the Rutherford Hi-Tech Forum.
·          Jointly lead trade missions with NZTE to key markets including China, Korea, ASEAN countries and Gulf States.
·          Lead the NZ Square Kilometre Array Industry consortium as part of the joint bid with Australia for this mega-science project.

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