20 May 2015 · Absolute IT

When you think of New Zealand’s innovative tech sector, Waikato and Bay of Plenty might not be the first place that pops to mind, but with the global growth of NZ tech, even the smaller regions are prospering. Our latest survey of tech professionals and employers from Waikato and Bay of Plenty paints a pretty awesome picture of the region and its thriving tech sector.

Home of the happy tech professional

Investment and focus on work-life balance, positive workplace culture and happy staff is just one of the positive aspects you’ll find on Auckland’s door step in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

According to the latest Absolute IT survey of Waikato and Bay of Plenty tech professionals, a whopping 90% of believe their current workplace is a good place to be; this figure is the highest of all the main regions in New Zealand. “Watch out Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch,” says Absolute IT Regional Manager Brian Bernard.

The region’s happy tech work environment can also been seen in the significant decrease (since 2014) in the number of tech professionals considering a move to a new IT job. This figure is down 21%, with only 54% of employees considering a job move this year.

“This figure is 13% lower than the national average, so highlights the great work local employers are doing, listening to what their staff want and delivering innovative projects and cheerful, healthy workplaces,” says Bernard.

IT Professionals Considering a Move to a New IT Job

The recent Westpac’s 2015 Grow New Zealand Survey also goes further to explain this trend. The survey shows that 30% of SMEs in New Zealand saw positive upward growth in the last year. The small figures are in part due to SME owners’ focus on maintaining a good work-life balance for themselves and their employees. Westpac CEO David McLean said the prospects are looking good for SMEs in the coming year but “for many SMEs the improved conditions are the cream on the lifestyle cake rather than looking to grow or expand”.

So what does this mean for tech job seekers living in the region, or considering a move? Waikato and Bay of Plenty can offer you better flexibility and employers who understand that moving to the regions isn’t just about working yourself to the bone to get ahead.

Interestingly, the latest Absolute IT survey showed 86% of tech professionals in the Waikato /Bay of Plenty region believe their work-life balance is either average or above, so it looks like tech professionals are not only happy at work, but really are able to maintain a great balance between, work, family, social and fun!

Innovation generating IT jobs

“While work-life balance is important, this doesn’t drive work happiness alone. Tech professionals need innovation, new projects and growth to really be happy and the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region also delivers this in spades,” says Bernard.

The Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) held a recent national conference in Tauranga. The IITP selected Tauranga as the 2013 venue as they identify the region as having one of the strongest growing clusters of ICT innovation in New Zealand.

The latest Absolute IT survey of Waikato and Bay of Plenty tech employers shows the local tech environment is set to continue to grow throughout 2015, with 86% of tech employers planning to recruit additional staff/contractors, up 7% on 2014 figures. Interestingly while ‘new projects’ continues to be the top motivation for hiring, ‘increased customer demand’ has jumped 16% since 2014 to 23% – another signal of the exciting tech sector development happening in the region.

The region is home to some exciting tech projects, including Waikato Innovation Park. Much like GridAKL in Auckland and the EPIC Centre in Christchurch, Waikato has developed its own innovation campus. The Waikato Innovation Park is home to over 40 technology based companies with a strong culture of innovation and an export focus, including:

LayerX have developed facial recognition for anti-gambling, cloud based self-help tools, and built mobile and app based solutions for large NZ based companies.

The Bay of Plenty is also awaiting decisions by Callaghan Innovation on funding towards a local technology innovation centre.

Another specific local tech project worth mentioning is the University of Waikato’s Traffic and Road Safety research group. This team have been working to develop special eye-tracker technology that enables their researchers to see what types of movement are distracting drivers. Their research has provoked legislative change and the team work with Government agencies like NZTA, Ministry of Transport, and ACC to ensure the practical application of their technology.

With The Startup Factory NZ soon launching their incubation hub in Hamilton city we can expect to see more growth in the region’s tech sector.

Tech talent shortage – land your dream IT job

With a growing tech sector, so many more tech professionals happy in their current role and so many less considering jumping ship, it is no surprise that the latest Absolute IT Employer Insight Survey showed that the biggest internal business challenge Waikato and Bay of Plenty employers are facing this year is ‘attracting staff’ and ‘creating a positive workplace culture’ to hold onto the talent they’ve already got.

“The region’s tech sector is packed to the brim with exciting career opportunities from entry level support roles to management,” says Bernard.

The top tech skill sets in high demand in the region are dominated by business analysis, project management and architecture, followed at a distance by business intelligence, networking and infrastructure and support/helpdesk.

 Hamilton / Bay of Plenty Top Skills in demand

Need more convincing? Lets look at income vs cost of living


The latest Absolute IT Remuneration Report shows the median base salary for IT professionals in the region is $70,000, which is $12,500 less than the national base and that 67% are also receiving additional benefits as part of their remuneration package – health insurance, mobile allowance, additional annual leave etc.

“While these figures are lower than our other three main centres, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, it is important to think about this in context compared with the cost of living” says Bernard.

Housing affordability in the region is getting better and better with Massey University’s latest housing affordability report showing an increase in affordability over the last quarter. The average house price in Waikato is $325,000 and the average rents for Hamilton central are around $200-340 per week, coastal Waihi $250-370 per week, and Whakatane $240-340. These cheap rents trump their next door neighbour Auckland whose CBD rents range from $340 – 470 per week.

Does your house earn more than you do? Source: NZ Herald

“For those currently living in Auckland and not quite ready to pick up and move city, you might also be tempted by the fact Hamilton city is only a short commute (against traffic!) from Auckland,” says Bernard.

Want to know more about IT jobs in Waikato / Bay of Plenty?

Living in the Bay

With its famous coastline and pumping surf, the Bay of Plenty is a great spot for the beach lovers and families. Mount Maunganui offers picturesque views and its iconic namesake mountain, great for paragliders and walkers.

Known for its blue skies and warm weather, the Bay of Plenty is a good choice for those wanting a warmer climate, and it’s only a hop, skip, and jump away from Mount Ruapehu in the ski season.

Living in Mooloo Country

Waikato is home to some of New Zealand’s most impressive landscapes. The New Zealand rowing centre at Lake Karapiro regularly hosts some of the world’s most prestigious rowing and kayaking events, and also acts as a playpark for water skiers and wakeboarders. Home to the Chiefs rugby team there are plenty of home games to keep the family entertained. And with the super highway to Auckland, you’re only an hour from the country’s biggest city.

Get me an IT job in Waikato/Bay of Plenty!

We’re adding new IT jobs every day – browse our Waikato and Bay of Plenty job listings to see who’s currently recruiting in New Zealand’s fastest growing ICT cluster. IT recruitment in the regions is our specialty. If you’re considering going rural, or simply looking for an IT job that contributes to a better life-work balance, let’s chat today.

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