The New Zealand arm of global consultancy firm PwC is to boost its workforce by a third in the next five years, including a major push to increase its Māori and Pasifika workforce as part of a global strategy shake-up.
Just 7 per cent of its 1700 staff currently identify as Māori or Pasifika - well below the general population's makeup of 16 per cent Māori and 8 per cent Pasifika.
Mark Averill, PwC New Zealand chief executive, said it had made a strong commitment to increasing the ethnic identification across those two groups in particular.
"We are very aware the broader community is at 24 per cent - 16 per cent Māori, 8 per cent Pasifika. We want to make significant progress so that we look more representative of our clients.
"We want to drive it significantly north from the existing level to a lot closer within five years of where we would expect it to be."
Averill said alongside that it was prioritising how to make its people feel culturally confident through its Te Maramatanga programme which helped staff build a better understanding of te ao Māori or the Māori worldview.
Around 700 of its staff had so far been through the programmes which taught them about history and language.
PwC plans to create 500 new roles in New Zealand over the next five years while globally the firm will create 100,000 roles with a US$12 billion investment as part of a strategy called "The New Equation".
Averill said the strategy was a response to the fundamental changes that were happening around the world - including technological disruption, climate change, the fractured geopolitical situation and the Covid-19 pandemic.
"What that means for our clients and our communities is their needs are changing. What we are hearing from them in terms of the key things they want to face and lean into is how do they as organisations build trust, which has become increasingly important in this environment, and then also looking to deliver sustainable outcomes so that their businesses change, position themselves for the future.
"It is bringing together those two components into what we term as the new equation - which is those two interconnected needs that the clients are facing."
Averill said it would look to develop specialist capability in areas such as ESG (environmental, social and governance), digital transformation and technology alliances, Māori business, infrastructure and health reform.
To help its recruitment drive the company is bringing on board new staff through non-traditional methods - recruiting school leavers and those without tertiary qualifications to come on board with its Ignite programme - an apprenticeship-style scheme.
"It's a particular focus around developing certification and capability and experience that is linked to the key technology alliances."
It has developed an alliance with Microsoft in which workers go through a 12-month programme to get skilled up into key technology areas.
"As they get experience during that 12 month apprenticeship they then continue and have a significant rewarding career within a tech consulting team and we are looking to broaden that out across the business.
"Currently we have got in the first year between 50 and 60 people in the programme."
It was also working with GirlBoss New Zealand to offer training and placements for young women to work with new and emerging technologies.
Averill is also hoping to boost its staff with in-bound secondments from other parts of the PwC network once New Zealand's international border reopens again.
The company has committed to upskilling its existing workforce and will spend $8 million over the next three years on digitally upskilling its workforce.
"We have got a whole programme called Reimagine Digital and within that we have three parts to it."
One was citizen-led - providing the opportunity for people to go into self-development and go on programmes like digital academies and get tooled up.
It also had business-led digital transformation with a specialist team that was looking to automate some of the things it did manually.
PwC was also making a significant investment in tools like Workbench, Data Platform and Digital Labs.
The New Zealand arm was also part of a push to grow the Asia Pacific business with an investment of US$3b over the next five years as part of an ambition to double the size of the business by 2026.
"We are proud to be part of the Asia Pacific region as we look to rebuild following the impact of Covid-19 and face the challenges of climate change, social equity and the digital divide.
"There is a growing expectation that businesses have a role to play in addressing broader
societal issues. Our new strategy is about helping clients address their toughest challenges and delivering for society and the planet."