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The borders are opening. What does this mean for the tech industry?

Not long ago, we published an article about how Covid restrictions in Australia and New Zealand were changing the face of APAC’s tech industry.

Now, both nations have announced plans to loosen border restrictions over the course of this year, allowing for international travel between both countries and eventually travellers and migrants from abroad.

Throughout the pandemic, businesses have had to change the way they go about recruiting and retaining talent. Candidates in the tech sector who lived within Australia and New Zealand during the pandemic found themselves in a strong market, where they could easily find better paying jobs or negotiate pay rises with their existing employers.


So what happens now?

Will more tech professionals from abroad migrate to Australia and New Zealand?

How is the labour market going to shift in the coming months?

What do businesses in the tech sector need to do to prepare for these changes?


Well, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we have the next best thing. We asked some of our career specialists to weigh in with their predictions on what lies ahead.


Borders are opening—but not quickly

Though it’s certainly exciting news that we’ll soon be able to once again welcome international travellers, bear in mind that it will take time for migration rates to return to where they were before 2020.

Australia began accepting skilled workers in December, while New Zealand will start allowing some skilled workers in mid-March, and only plans to reopen borders to all visa categories in October 2022.

Even when borders open completely, there is likely to be some caution from international candidates about making a move abroad, until the global pandemic is further in the rearview mirror.

It will also take time for new arrivals to go through the migration process, find housing, and secure jobs—so don’t expect a sudden shift right away.


A change in salary rates

Not long after borders closed, tech companies in both Australia and New Zealand had to find new ways to attract and retain talent, often compensating people at rates $30k to $40k higher than they would have offered pre-pandemic.

Is this going to change, once there is a larger pool of skilled workers from abroad to choose from?

“I don’t think salaries are going to go backwards,” says Tom Derbyshire, General Manager of Auckland, Finite 920. “But there may be a decrease in the rate at which salaries rise.”

For tech companies, this may be a relief—but they’ll still need to remain competitive to attract and retain talent. Reducing salaries back to pre-pandemic levels is a major risk.


New expectations from candidates

Though the pandemic may be receding, people around the world have shifted their perspective on what they want out of their jobs. And those new perspectives aren’t going anywhere.

In a paper from the Australian Government Productivity Commission, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they feel just as productive working from home as they do at the office. They’re also keenly aware of how much money and time they can save on their commute, and may even be willing to accept jobs with lower pay if they can work remotely.

This also means that job seekers in Australia and New Zealand have more options than ever before. They are no longer limited to looking for companies with offices in their own cities—they can seek remote opportunities anywhere in the world.

Hiring managers in the tech industry need to keep this perspective change in mind. Refusing to allow candidates flexibility is likely to drive away some of the top talent here and abroad.


Big tech companies are shaking up the landscape

Over the last few years, several of the major players in the tech industry have announced plans to increase their presence in both Australia and New Zealand.

Google announced that it will invest $1 billion AUD in Australia over the next five years, which is expected to create up to 6,000 new jobs, according to the BBC.

Meanwhile, Amazon plans to spend $7.5 billion NZD building giant data centres in Auckland, the New Zealand Herald reports.

For candidates, this is good news—many professionals in the tech industry are drawn to jobs at these firms, which offer competitive salaries, benefits, and job security.

For smaller tech companies in Australia and New Zealand, the arrival of these large companies means more competition. Once again, they’ll need to offer extra benefits to attract talent and retain their existing workforce.

There’s no way to know exactly what is in store for the tech industries in Australia and New Zealand—but with borders reopening, it’s a good idea to prepare for these changes.


Our career specialists are here to match businesses with the most talented tech professionals in the country, no matter what the future holds. If you are looking for a new challenge, check out our current open roles here to start your search today.


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