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Only able-bodied men need apply! – Toi Mai

The headline may read like a sexist job ad in the 1960s, but it’s the sad reflection of the lack of diversity in New Zealand’s tech sector workforce today.

“All over the world, diversity and inclusion is one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry today, and New Zealand is no exception,” said Dr Claire Robinson, CEO of the Toi Mai Workforce Development Council on the release of new research looking into the disparity of access for underrepresented communities, including tāngata whaikaha (disabled people), Māori, Pacific peoples, women and LGBTQIA+ people, into the tech workforce.

The Toi Mai research highlights the many complex barriers to inclusion that have been holding tāngata whaikaha, in particular, back from entering the tech sector’s workforce.

From the domestic environment to education to industry, these barriers include a lack of digital access for homes facing socioeconomic challenges, biased academic counselling in schools, and a widespread lack of awareness within the tech industry of tāngata whaikaha and culturally specific needs.

Toi Mai makes a number of recommendations in the report for government, industry, employers, education providers and teachers to address the barriers.

New Zealand’s tech sector is the country’s second largest export sector. It’s a creator of high-skill, high-wage jobs and products that change people’s lives. It’s one of the fastest growing career fields in the country and needs a further 30,000 jobs by 2030 based on current growth trends.

Dr Robinson noted that 79% of New Zealand tech companies surveyed by Toi Mai report facing recruitment challenges over the past 12 months. And yet only 5% of the tech workforce is Māori and 4.4% is Pacific, while women make up just 29% of the digital technologies workforce (NZTech). Data on tāngata whaikaha and LGBTQIA+ is less known. “While all these communities are avid users of tech, they remain heavily underrepresented across the workforce,” she said.

This research builds on the findings contained in two reports released by Toi Mai earlier this year into the ‘Leaky Pipeline’ – the barriers to access for young women in the creative technology (Createch) sector.

The report Barriers to diversity in the Aotearoa tech sector and the prior Createch research reports are available from toimai.nz/publications

 

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