YEA Data Points

Data Transparency: The need for High-Value Jobs for All

Written by Kerry Topp, Founder, The Kerry Topp Collective

“Vulnerable communities in New Zealand need more action and it needs to be delivered in a more coordinated and sustainable way.” – Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand, Beyond COVID-19: A Summary of Our Advice to Ministers, June 2020

In its first report to Government, the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand advised that social and digital inclusion must be a priority for decision-makers. In short, leaders must do more to tackle digital exclusion. We need a fresh approach, one better at encouraging and developing home-grown talent. Talent from all walks of life. And jobs that are highvalue jobs and career pathways, like tech.

Most tech businesses get skills through international recruitment. These same businesses appear to also be underinvesting in growing their own talent. We must lift our collective gaze. Visibility of data can help highlight the problem and opportunities that exist.


What does the data show?

1. Tech jobs pay well


  • Information architects (IT) $135,000
  • Data warehousing and Business Intelligence (IT) $115,000 
  • Cybersecurity specialists $105,000 
  • Construction project and contract management $105,000 
  • IT Sales $105,000


  • Kitchen staff $32,000 
  • Bar staff and baristas $33,000 
  • Housekeeper $33,000 
  • Retail assistant $33,000 
  • Tour guide $35,000 

2. Incentives flow towards high-volume, low-paying jobs

Ministry of Education defines apprenticeships and Traineeships as follows:

  • Apprentices are industry training learners who do substantial training programmes at Levels 4 or above. Apprenticeships provide opportunities for learners to establish careers in new occupations.  
  • Trainees are industry training learners who do short programmes, often at lower levels. Traineeships often cater for established workers, and employers who need supplementary skills for their workers to help them continue to adapt to changing technologies and other working conditions. They are also used to train new employees.


According to data obtained from the Ministry of Education (2021) many training positions are in the healthcare and social help sectors. The largest number of apprenticeships are in construction.

It also shows that participation is highest for apprentices of Māori ethnicity. The largest increases in participation rates for apprentices were for Māori and Pacific Peoples. This suggests apprenticeships or earning while learning, is attractive for these communities.

Trainee workforce participation rates for Māori and Pacific Peoples, although decreasing, remained high.

3. The data shows we are propagating cultural bias

Apprenticeship and trainee data indicates many of the incentivised pathways Māori and Pacific Peoples pursue are high-volume lower wages. Many of these sectors pay Living Wage. New Zealand Living Wage hourly rate for 2021/22 is $22.75.

To illustrate the impact of being ‘incentivised’ into these pathways, the median income for Pacific Peoples’ is $28,006 compared to $49,991 for the rest of Auckland. To further illustrate, as of June 2018, the median income for Pacific people in South Auckland was 44 percent less than the median income for the rest of Auckland.

The National median base salary for digital technology workers in New Zealand in 2019 is $92,250. Imagine the impact a pathway to a salary like that might make for a Māori and Pacific Peoples’ student, but also for their whānau, and community?

What is the solution?

I believe it is incentivised apprenticeship programme for tech and there are tech leaders doing this. However, as a sector less than 10 per cent of large organisations and Government agency training is spent on digital technology upskilling. This needs to change.

Paid internships for high school students in tech are also rare. This also needs to change. As an example, New Zealand’s biggest tech internship programme Summer of Tech, catering for tertiary students and new graduates, sees less than 20 per cent get placement. In 2019, that number was 352. There is no insight on the Māori and Pasifika placements.

Summer of Tech reports only one-in-six to one-in-seven students receive an internship, in any given year. This is consistent with findings from the 2020 Digital Skills Survey, where only 42 per cent of organisations took on interns in the past year. This is woeful.

According to Summer of Tech, the rate at which interns are hired by employers sits at 83 per cent in 2018 and 73 per cent in 2019. Both interns and employers report satisfaction and value in internships. This is more encouraging.

The direct cost of employing an intern is low. The average pay for the Summer of Tech 2020 cohort was only $23.97/ hour.

As Graeme Muller, NZ Tech CEO recently said, ‘The jobs are there but companies need help changing so they can create the right opportunities for more people. We also need to help encourage more people, and more different people, to take a risk and consider a tech career. Finally, we need to be clever about how we develop the right skills, using the education system but also lots of new innovative approaches.’

Tech leaders in Aotearoa have the opportunity to empower communities and change lives for generations. But, it requires a desire by our tech leaders to invest time in our school rangatahi.

Join us next week as Kerry delves deeper into the benefits of incentivised apprenticeship programme while highlighting those in the field who are succeeding