18 Feb 2024
A vibrant tech sector has the potential to support economic growth in New Zealand with high-paying jobs and high-value exports, and a National government will make changes to help it happen, say National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Science Innovation and Technology spokesperson Judith Collins.
“Lack of access to skills and expertise is often raised by tech firms as one of the main barriers to growing New Zealand’s technology and innovation sector,” Ms Collins says.
Mrs Stanford says New Zealand needs a smarter approach to immigration that focusses on attracting highly talented people with the skills, knowledge and expertise Kiwi firms need to grow.
“Smarter immigration isn't about numbers; it's about identifying the gaps in New Zealand’s skill base and making it easier for people who have those skills to come here and contribute. It’s about making sure New Zealand remains competitive in the global war for talent to help grow our tech sector and drive faster economic growth.
“It’s also not only about tech. Attracting the best and brightest to New Zealand, whatever their field, has real potential for innovation and growth across the economy.”
Ms Collins says a National Government would work with the tech sector to investigate the best ways to attract and retain talent.
“It’s common for tech start-ups to attract employees with an offer of equity in the company if it succeeds. However, the Startup Advisors Council has identified existing rules – where share options are treated as income when they are exercised and converted into shares, rather than when the shares are sold – as a major concern, so a National Government will look into that.”
National will also ensure that the tech sector has a champion at the heart of a National Government by establishing a Minister of Technology, whose mission will be to ensure the right policy and regulatory conditions are in place for the tech sector to thrive, Ms Collins says.
National’s plan to boosting the tech sector and attract top talent:
- International Graduates Visa – a three-year open work visa for highly educated people who have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree or higher within the last five years from one of the top 100 universities in the world. This visa will initially be capped at 500 successful applicants in the first year.
- Global Growth Tech Visa – a residence visa for people with highly specialised skills who have worked at a top global tech company earning at least NZ$400,000pa. This visa will initially be capped at 250 successful applicants in the first year.
- Digital Nomad Visa – a 12-month visa to attract skilled, highly-mobile people to come to New Zealand while working remotely for an overseas-based company, with the option to apply for a work or residence visa later if they choose to stay. This visa will initially be capped at 250 successful applicants in the first year.
- Supporting startups – investigate changes to the tax treatment of options issued by startups to their staff to make it easier to attract and retain talent in their early years
- Minister of Technology – to work with the tech sector to create the right policy and regulatory environment to support more innovation and faster growth
Making it easier for the tech sector to attract and retain talent and supporting startups to grow is part of National’s plan to rebuild the economy to get it working for all New Zealanders, Mrs Stanford and Ms Collins say.
“A strong economy means an end to the cost-of-living crisis, higher incomes, lower mortgage rates, and it means New Zealand can also afford the quality public services on which we all rely.”