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Where have all the good geeks gone?

Covid19 has a lot to answer for – more than anyone could initially have foreseen.

The major impact to Aotearoa includes our health resources, tourist numbers, national economy, and employment rates. But what we really want to talk about specifically is the massive impact on our workforce. We’ve experienced a huge loss of workers in many essential industries such as engineering, health and social services, and, in our own personal interest, ICT.

As the tech industry continues to boom and enhance the way businesses are run across New Zealand, the demand for tech experts is constantly on the rise. New Zealand IT employers have heavily depended on talent from overseas – in 2019 over 80% of digital technology jobs were held by New Zealand immigrants1. Covid border closures stopped the industry from being able to bring international workers into the country.

Many of the country’s biggest IT businesses have confirmed that their financial growth has halted due to delays in immigration. 96% of IT industry employers nationwide expect this shortage of talent to impact their business in 20232. That’s some big numbers!

Roles within this industry continue to demand high salaries, due to the complexity of skill required. The transition to cloud-based computing is one of the main factors, as the need for skills in cloud essentials such as Azure are a vital requirement for these roles.

The New Zealand Government has added 24 ICT, electronics and telecommunications roles to the Long Term Shortage List, alongside developing The Green List; an online recruitment tool for NZ based employers looking to hire talent from overseas, and a streamlined process for immigrants to apply for New Zealand based jobs in high demand.

New Zealand’s booming tech industry

The tech industry is New Zealand’s second largest export earner (after dairy products)– worth $11.5 billion dollars in 2022. [1]

Punching above its weight, our industry has a high global reputation for its resilience, flexibility and ambition. PowerbyProxi – a by-product of Auckland University – invented the world’s safest, progressive wireless charging system. Rex Bionics, based in Auckland, developed a robotic exoskeleton – providing the ability to stand and walk to paralysed people. Many international corporations such as Fujitsu have picked our country as their base of operation4.

Our IT industry includes over 20,000 firms, most of which are SME businesses. Altogether, the industry employs over 114,000 people, and employers estimate that they’ll require approximately 4,500 new tech experts each year5.

Are IT Jobs well paid in New Zealand?

The shortage of required tech skills has resulted in these digital roles being some of the highest paying jobs nationwide. Add to that the new way of working after COVID with employees expecting and being offered, additional benefits such as working remotely, and the hits just keep on coming for tech employers.

The cost of hiring staff in this industry continues to grow; 88% of IT businesses have said they’ll have to offer a salary higher than they’d expected, and 66% of employees said changing jobs in the previous year has helped them gain financially6.

What IT Roles are in Demand

According to the job board website SEEK, 13 of the top 20 highest paid jobs in New Zealand are ICT roles (the period between Jan – March 2021 compared to Jan – March 2022), see the table below for a snapshot of some of these roles – note that these are permanent roles, not contracting rates. [i]

Job DescriptionAverage salary between 2021 – 2022
Change Manager$157,723
IT Consultant$144,469
Technical Lead$140,907
Programme Manager$140,843
Scrum Master$137,146
IT Project Manager$136,062
Test Lead$131, 819
Product Manager$131,157
Delivery Manager$128,903

What is The Green List?

Before Covid19, roughly 4,000 well paid IT jobs were filled with New Zealand based immigrants, who in turn supported the nation’s economic growth7. In the wake of the pandemic, border closures saw a major loss of New Zealand based immigration workers in the IT industry.

Bringing in overseas talent became a minefield of red tape and closed doors, so the government came up with The Green List. This list’s purpose is to highlight the demand for work in certain sectors (including ICT) and simplify the application process to work in New Zealand.

While The Green List features the jobs in demand and provides a simpler application for these, the visa process behind it is still just as intricate. People who want to come and work from overseas still face the lengthy process of applying for their partners and families to join them. Not overly helpful – but it’s a start.

If you’re thinking of working and living in New Zealand, it’s important to first check that you are eligible for a visa, the Immigration New Zealand website is the Government’s official website with the latest information. Younity also has a handy Moving to New Zealand page with helpful links to resources such as checklists, planning tools and licensed immigration advisors, it’s a great place to begin.

So where did all the good geeks go?

Simple answer – home. As an island nation with a comparatively small population, we rely on workers from other countries to fill many of our roles in the workforce, across many industries.

How do we get them back? The government and Kiwi-based companies are working on it – but the facts are clear – we need more good techies, and many businesses are thinking well outside the square to help them get here.

We’d love to hear from you if you’re a tech professional, looking to earn top dollar with the option to work remotely – give us a call! Let us help you find the right employer that will meet your needs.

Or if this blog has inspired you to get into the IT Industry, and you’d like to discuss ways to go about this – we can guide you in the right direction!



[1] Salary information provided from

[1] TIN Report 2022

[i] Salary information provided from

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