Secret trade agreement threatens NZ tech jobs

Among other things the Financial Services Annex of Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) published this week by Wikileaks includes clauses which mean banks and other finance companies can quickly import overseas IT workers.

That could make life difficult for local contractors.

New Zealand is one of 50 countries involved in secret talks over TISA. If passed the trade agreement will severely limit governments’ ability to regulate and control finance companies. That’s a questionable notion given the role of the finance sector in the global financial crisis.

As Angus Kidman writes in Lifehacker Australia:

Given the choice, workers from cheaper locations are always going to be the first choice.

It’s not clear the proposed agreement will have as much effect in New Zealand as in Australia. That country’s IT sector is trending down.

From what I hear talking to people in the industry, tech skills are in such short supply that an influx of overseas workers is unlikely to upset the jobs market.

If you know otherwise, please get in touch.

IBM Australia jobs head to NZ?

IBMThe Sydney Morning Herald reports IBM Australia could cut as many as 1500 staff. Many of the jobs will go offshore to Asia and New Zealand.

IBM refuses to confirm or deny the report.

At first sight this could be a good thing. After all we get good, well-paid jobs with a multinational employer. If you want a job with IBM, I hope you’re lucky.

It isn’t all positive.

First, Australia and New Zealand are effectively a single market for tech jobs. Many senior IBM people in the two countries have responsibilities that stretch from Invercargill to Darwin or further. With some of those jobs going to Asia the total pool of work for Australians and New Zealanders will be smaller.

Second, New Zealanders will be among the 1500 getting laid off in Australia. Some may be your friends or relatives.

Third, there’s a worrying implication in the SMH story. IBRS analyst Alan Hansell says he:

wouldn’t be surprised if New Zealand ended up benefiting the most from the cuts. This was because of the country’s cheaper real estate, lower mandatory superannuation for employees and lower labour rates.

Lower superannuation and lower labour rates are not the kind of competitive advantages most countries aspire to.

Up to 1500 Staff to Go in Offshoring Redundancy Drive, Sources Say.

Callaghan Innovation debuts

Loading logs at Gisborne

Loading logs at Gisborne

Three days ago I watched a series of lorries barrel through Gisborne carrying unprocessed logs to the port where they were loaded on to a ship.

That wood is heading overseas. Workers in another country will add value.

New Zealand unlocked just a small part of the wealth tied up in those logs.

We ate in The Works, a restaurant housed in an old Gisborne port building. There chefs took locally produced raw materials like fish, meat and vegetables then added value by turning them into $30 plates of food. We sipped Gisborne Chardonnay – a few cents worth of grapes turned into $40 bottles of wine.

At the time I thought how the economy would be boosted if New Zealand could move more of its economy higher up the value chain.

That’s what the Callaghan Institute could do. If the project succeeds, it won’t just move food, agriculture and wood processing up the value chain, it will help our industries capture the crowning heights. It’ll make us richer as a nation.

There’s a danger it could just become another top-heavy bureaucracy acting to widen the gap between innovators and the market. What we don’t need it more paperwork or more red tape. We certainly don’t need officials meddling at the sharp end of the economy.

Let’s hope CI can broker partnerships between innovators and industry. I’d like to see the new organisation get a few early runs on the board to prove its worth.

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LinkedIn profile infographics: pretty gimmicks

Useful research by Aimee Whitcroft who goes beyond the call of duty testing various ways of turning Linkedin data into infographics.

Her Your LinkedIn profile, visualised concludes the artwork generated by services automating the process are little more than good-looking gimmicks and certainly not good enough to send someone when you’re looking for a new job.

She goes onto the say the idea is lovely and there are some great elements, but the services need to improve.

Goodbye Polar Bear Farm

Computerworld has a front page story about iPhone app developer Layton Duncan planning to move his Polar Bear Farm business from Christchurch. That piece isn’t online yet, but Toby Manhire had an earlier story on this at The Listener.

No-one can blame Duncan for wanting to up sticks. The last two years of earthquakes would test the patience of a saint.

The authorities running the show in Christchurch seem clueless. We can all sympathise with Duncan’s frustrations.

What concerns me most and what should worry other New Zealanders is Duncan hasn’t chosen to set up shop in Wellington, Auckland or anywhere else in this country. He has chosen Melbourne in Australia.

I hope someone in government has asked Duncan why he chose to move overseas.

If it was just one person making a trans-Tasman move, it would be a pity. But it isn’t, we’re looking at an entire generation. That’s not a pity, it is a tragedy.