ITP steps up to qualify ICT immigrants

Published on the 21/03/2018 | Written by Hayden McCall


ITP_qualification_assessment

New Zealand’s IT Professionals association to provide qualification recognition...

ITP is picking up an important role to fill a current gap in New Zealand’s immigration requirements.

To meet the skill requirements for IT-related roles potential immigrants need confirmation that they have attained a suitable qualification.

To accumulate the necessary points (and qualifications count for up to 70 of the 160 benchmark required for their application to be considered) immigrants are now required to prove ‘a qualification at NZQF Level 7 or higher’.

This means that those looking to move to New Zealand to work in tech with fringe qualifications or from countries outside the NZQA framework will need to go through ITP’s service if they wish to have their qualifications recognised in New Zealand. This will be in the form of a letter from ITP certifying that the degree (and any further learning) meet the benchmark requirements.

Paul Matthews, ITP CEO explains. “Right now, NZQA provides the qualification recognition service for qualifications that directly match a qualification available in New Zealand. Within each professional area if there is not a direct match they assess the NZ Qualifications Framework Level and then refer to the professional body to assess content. ITP is now recognised as the professional body for computing and IT.”

Those who use the service are likely to both need the points in their immigration application and have a degree that is not issued under the international Seoul Accord, or that matches directly to a New Zealand computing/IT degree.

“Essentially this just provides another pathway for potential immigrants looking to work in New Zealand to show they meet the qualification requirements set by Immigration New Zealand.”

The NZQA process also includes some rigor around confirming that degrees were indeed awarded to the individual from the institution cited.

The initiative has been put in place as a catch all with the intention of allowing more suitably qualified IT professionals into the country given the tech industry’s oft-cited shortage of skills.

According to last year’s Digital Nations report (produced by ITP in conjunction with NZ Tech) Immigration New Zealand issued 5,500 technology visas last year, including 1,655 software and application programmers, 664 multimedia specialists and 598 business and system analysts.

The 5,500 tech sector visas issued represents 3.7 percent of the total issued in the year to March 2018, and compares with an estimated 130,000 employees in New Zealand’s tech sector (based on 120,350 in 2016).

Matthews stresses that ITP is not yet providing any IT skills assessment for potential immigrants, but it is down to one of two finalists to provide exactly that following a formal RFP procurement process last year.

The RFP, issued by MBIE in April 2017, says there is growing global demand for ICT professionals and managers and New Zealand is competing with many other countries to attract and retain skilled workers.

The sector faces unique challenges as highly skilled tech professionals often:

  • do not have formal qualifications
  • hold a tertiary qualification or have a tertiary degree in an unrelated field
  • have difficulty demonstrating five years of experience as many work as freelancers or for unconventional organisations (e.g. open-source collaborations)

The risk, identified in the RFP, is that the sector, and New Zealand, misses out on the talent and skills it has identified as being the most valuable due to limitations in Immigration’s current policy and procedures.

“ITP is well placed to provide the qualification assessment process given we are the co-developer of all IT-related qualifications at levels 1-6 on the NZ Qualifications Framework as well as the body that accredits New Zealand IT-related degrees on behalf of our profession,” says Matthews.

The RFP, issued under the previous National Government had September 2017 as the date for implementation. An updated timeframe under the new Labour-led coalition has not been announced.

Matthews however is confident it is proceeding and that it will further open the pathways for IT firms to import the skills they need.

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