New Zealand on the hunt for CTO to drive digital agenda

The new chief technology officer role has been created as New Zealand looks to build a national digital strategy.

The New Zealand government is seeking a chief technology officer to develop and implement the country's digital strategy.

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It is expected the strategy will set out how New Zealand can respond to the challenges of emerging and future technology, build its digital economy, and achieve digital inclusion over the next five to 10 years.

The CTO will be considered a "one-person Ministerial Advisory Committee" that will be accountable to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Government Digital Services and Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Clare Curran. They will also provide advice to ministers and senior leaders on digital issues.

"We need to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our changing digital world," Curran said in a statement on Monday. "This position is critical to ensuring we can use and develop digital technologies for social prosperity, economic productivity, and for the good of all New Zealanders."

The government is seeking a CTO that has a high level of expertise in the tech industry, one that is passionate about the issues under their new remit, as well as someone that is "influential" and who wants to drive change within government.

"In particular, I see the chief technology officer working on issues such as improving digital equality, protecting citizens' rights online, and building a connected nation, alongside the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group and the other advisory groups that I have already signalled I will be establishing," Curran added.

The hunt for a CTO follows the NZ government last week announcing a new digital advisory group would be set up to help the government build its digital economy.

The group will be initially tasked with providing advice on the development of a blueprint for digital inclusion and digital enablement.

A report released on Monday on the digital skills landscape in New Zealand concluded that the country has a shortage of digitally-skilled talent and that women, Maori, and Pasifika are underrepresented in computer sciences or information technology courses.

"We need to know as much as we can about the size, scale, and nature of the digital skills shortage in the digital technology sector, and across New Zealand," Curran said on Monday.

"The tech sector is New Zealand's fastest growing industry and makes a significant contribution to our economy. We want to close the digital divides by 2020, and make ICT the second-largest contributor to GDP by 2025."

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