New Zealand's tech industry is on track to be the country's largest export industry well before 2030, as long as we can increase the flow of skills and capital to support growth, says NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller.
NZTech says NZ tech exports were on track to reach $16 billion before 2030.
Last year the tech sector employed 114,000 people, created 2148 new jobs and created 555 new companies in New Zealand.
The 200 largest exporters alone had $8.7 billion in overseas sales in 2019 and this is growing at close to $1 billion a year, every year.
"If we can provide the environment for entrepreneurs to build the next Xero or Rocket Lab, we will see thousands of new technology businesses established," Muller says.
"These firms will create thousands of new, high-paying, future-proofed tech jobs, and for every new tech job five other new jobs are created around it. It's a win win."
Muller says this presents New Zealand with an "exciting opportunity to create a brighter, bolder future and grow our way out of this economic crisis".
"Around 50,000 New Zealanders have already returned from overseas, with many more to follow. These are smart, educated Kiwis with world-class skills, global experience and strong international networks who will be looking for new opportunities here at home," he says.
"However, we need to put more work in to support schools teaching the digital tech curricula, to help eight to ten year old kids get passionate about tech, then creating better pathways for high school students into courses and work experience."
Tech is also enabling the rest of the economy, like agritech helping boosting the primary sector or edtech supporting education.
"Every four percent growth in the tech sector has been found to create an additional one percent growth across the rest of economy. Tech is not just important for exports, it is important for our future," Muller says.
Muller says NZTech applauds the National Party's promise to establish a minister for technology if elected.
A minister of technology would be responsible for partnering with the private sector and implementing its 2030 NZ tech plan.
Muller says they currently advise seven or eight different ministers on tech issues. Having a minister of tech will avoid doubling up or missing out.
National's policy aims to create 100,000 jobs with a $1.29 billion investment into the technology sector.
In a statement, National Party Leader Judith Collins says she and her party want to leverage the influx of Kiwi talent returning home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ‘seize the opportunity' to drive a change in nation's burgeoning technology sector.