A team of Auckland University students this month won first place in the innovation category of the Microsoft Imagine Cup for their meeting app, Estimeet.
The team of Hayden Do, Jason Wei, Chris Duan, and Derek Zhu had all been interested in technology from a young age.
Microsoft corporate vice-president and chief evangelist Steve Guggenheimer said students such as Team Estimeet represented the future -- but in terms of the number of people needed in the technology sector the world was falling behind.
"I have my own belief that if you think of reading and writing and arithmetic as the core, I think somewhere, maybe in 10 years or so, we're going to get to the point where some level of coding is going to become the fourth area you need to focus on."
The gap between the number of experienced coding and programming staff needed and the number of students graduating was not going to get smaller, Guggenheimer said.
"While students are starting [to get into coding] younger and you have more kids involved, it's still not nearly at the levels that I think we need to be at to defeat what's going to become one of the predominant areas that businesses focus on."
Microsoft NZ director of developer experience Nigel Parker said the problem was evidenced by the number of technology companies looking for staff.
"If you're studying IT, the jobs are there," he said.