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New Zealand Boosts Recruitment of Women into IT sector with Online Learning Programme

Enabling women from a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to participate in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training and education is a significant challenge to New Zealand’s participation in the global knowledge economy, particularly in recession mode. Women are significantly underrepresented as ICT specialists in business and academia, earn less, and represent a diverse range of industries.

Multiple pathways to training and retention must be identified and comprehended, as well as potential strategies to enable counter-discourses to emerge. Through transformative change, a better understanding of the complex interactions between women’s subjectivities, agency, and power may benefit women, the larger community, and the economy.

With this, a large tech company’s cloud computing arm and an Australian business consultancy have launched a free online introductory programme to encourage more women in New Zealand to enter the IT field.  “There is a major tech skills shortage in New Zealand at the moment, and the cloud company is helping to address this by providing a range of training programmes that feed talent into the local workforce,” head of small and medium business for the cloud company in New Zealand, said.

The free IT programme aimed to encourage women to consider a career in technology and by doing so increase diversity in the digital workforce, he said. According to a 2021 report, only one in every four IT workers is a woman. As per the report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in collaboration with NZTech, New Zealand has a skills mismatch rather than a skills shortage.

The country was desperate for senior and experienced IT professionals with advanced skills, but entry-level positions were scarce. There was a scarcity of senior-level experience and an abundance of unskilled graduates. According to the report, which was released in early 2021, the country was becoming increasingly reliant on immigration to source both high-skilled and lower-skilled IT staff, and businesses were not investing enough to upskill their employees. In addition, the report noted a lack of women, Maori, and Pacific Islanders in the IT industry.

The programme consists of four 45-minute modules that provide information on how skills can be transferred to other jobs, information from women who have switched to tech jobs, and what skills will be most in-demand in the next five years. Following that, the cloud provider offers additional programmes and courses to help prepare for new careers in technology.

A group of women is working together to bring more women into the industry. One of the group’s challenges, according to a spokeswoman, is educating young girls about the roles available in IT. Many people had the mistaken impression that many of the jobs involved coding, when in fact they did not. There were numerous roles in IT. Women are vastly underrepresented in positions of leadership. Change is required at all levels, from approaches to STEM education to how organisations approach diversity.

As per a new typology, “digital jobs” range from microwork-type jobs requiring very basic ICT and cognitive skills to more formal ICT sector jobs requiring advanced digital and analytical skills, such as network administration. BPO sector jobs, virtual freelancing, digital platform-linked jobs, digital entrepreneurship, and public sector driven jobs are also included.

One of the subjectivities that female students and graduates may pursue is the postponement of an ICT identity. As a result, the ICT identity is put on hold, possibly indefinitely, as parenting or other career or life choices take precedence. Another reason for the delay could be that pursuing training as an ICT professional is extrinsic rather than intrinsic.  In other words, adopting an ICT professional identity may be viewed as a reaction to external processes such as a career path with potentially high pay rather than personal ambition.

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