Border exceptions announced for hundreds of tech workers

Source: 1News

Border class exceptions for 600 specialist tech workers have been announced on Monday by the Minister for Digital Economy and Communications, Dr David Clark.

Computer programmer, file

The class exception includes four categories of workers: Software and Application Programmers, ICT Managers, ICT Security Specialists and Multimedia Specialists.

“The sector is now one of our top three exporters, and jobs in tech have been growing at twice the rate of the general economy. It has continued to expand during the COVID-19 pandemic, placing pressure on the demand for talent,” Clark said in a statement.

“The class exception announced today will relieve some of the pressure on New Zealand tech firms and support their continued growth and export earnings.

“We’re carefully targeting areas of the sector where industry has highlighted a clear need for overseas talent including, software development, product managers, cyber security and interactive media.

“For the last two years, the Government has been working closely with the tech sector on addressing the key opportunities and challenges facing the industry. At the top of the list is a mismatch between the skills available domestically and what the sector requires.

“Providing this border exception is part of the next step in Government’s carefully phased approach to reconnecting with the world.

“We’ve seen other countries open up too early and have to reverse decisions. So it’s a balancing act of supporting our economy and minimising the risks to our communities and health system.

“Resolving the skills mismatch is crucial for the tech sector to grow. However, Government also realises the development of tech skills within New Zealand is fundamental for the industry to realise its potential.

“As part of an Industry Transformation Plan partnership between Government and the tech industry; the sector has made a commitment to invest in developing domestic talent, rather than relying on overseas talent to fill the gaps.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the industry on how to ensure the education system is supporting this, by delivering the skills that the New Zealand industry needs,” Clark said.

An annual salary threshold will need to be met – at least $120,000 per annum for software and application programmers, ICT managers and ICT security specialists, and at least $95,000 for multimedia specialists.

The industry and government are working through the details for a scheme for allocating the class exception, with the view to having it operational in early 2022.

More details will be released in coming weeks.