New Zealand is facing a major shortage of IT experts to help small and medium-sized businesses benefit from exciting technological advances, says the head of Google New Zealand.
Tony Keusgen said the government's billion-dollar ultra fast broadband (UFB) scheme would not on its own get more Kiwi firms moving online.
New Zealand also needed hundreds more skilled IT workers who were trained in jobs like web strategy, search marketing and web design, he said.
"We don't have the people to enable New Zealand to move into the digital economy," Keusgen said.
"New Zealand businesses and the agencies that serve them are crying out for the right people and the right people are not here at the moment."
Rolling out UFB was obviously a positive development, but with two thirds of SMEs currently without even a website, the country needed people to help firms move online successfully.
"The reality is the right infrastructure does not guarantee that we build the right architecture on top of it," he said.
Speaking at the MindStorm conference in Auckland yesterday, Keusgen told business leaders that as of two days ago, there were about 100 jobs showing online in New Zealand for such digital roles.
"These roles are well paid, creative and globally relevant, and yet they're sitting there unfilled while the unemployment rate sits at just under seven per cent."
Joining Keusgen at the conference were speakers such as Allison Cerra from Alcatel-Lucent, Peter Griffin from the Science Media Centre, and RichRelevance chief scientist Darren Vengroff.
Keusgen announced that Google NZ had teamed up with the University of Auckland to help tackle the shortage of web strategists, search marketing experts and web designers.
Google will run web training courses at the University for people who have graduated in the last two years but are still unable to find work and want to work in digital.
Those people will then have the chance to meet potential employers, specifically businesses needing help with their online strategies.
"With the speed of business change today, more often than not people are graduating into jobs that just didn't exist for the previous generation," Keusgen said.
Recent graduates and final year students are being invited to register to attend a free weekend-long training seminar where they will learn how to help Kiwi businesses with their online strategies.
Students will graduate from the weekend course with industry-recognised Google accreditation.
"By the end of the year, we want to see 100 people having found a new digital job after having gone through one of these courses," Keusgen said.
"We think this is going to have a big impact on SMEs and other businesses across the country."
For more information about the Google Certification Program click here.