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IT Minister Amy Adams speaking at the IITP 2013 conference
IT Minister Amy Adams speaking at the IITP 2013 conference

Speaking at the eIITP 2013 Conference in Tauranga IT and Communications minister Amy Adams said there are two separate parts to her job. She says: “There’s the traditional minister role which is mainly dealing with the technology industry and the telco sector. The other part is where I get to act as the parliamentary advocate for the technology sector”.

She says because technology often finds its way into other minister’s portfolios, she is able to provide input. Recently she worked with Craig Foss on patent legislation and with other ministers on tertiary IT skills.

One of Adam’s frustrations in this advocacy role is that there is so little recognition of New Zealand technology from those outside the sector. She says people elsewhere in New Zealand have yet to grasp technology’s importance and that when she travels overseas she often hears people say things like “does New Zealand do IT?”

Skill shortage

She says the most commonly raised subject in the IT part of her portfolio is the skills shortage. There’s a real problem with finding the right people to work in the IT sector.

Adams thinks the answer lies at least partly in giving the industry a higher profile with children as they go through school. She says information technology professionals – and the IITP – has a role to play here telling personal stories about the industry to young people in order to create excitement.

Adams is also concerned about the misalignment between what is being taught and what the sector needs.

She says other nations are pushing digital creation much harder than New Zealand – in one country children are taught coding from the age of five.