Why do we even need these Skills Assessments? Context, background, etc

CB Connor Boyle Public Seen by 281

The purpose of this thread is to give context for how we came to the point we're at now, and give space for discussion and debate over our reasoning.

Watch our pitch from the end of the R9 Accelerator

What is the R9 Accelerator?

Traject entered into the R9 Accelerator in February and was accepted into the program to tackle the issue of skills shortage within IT, with Immigration New Zealand as our sponsor agency.

The R9 Accelerator is a three month program run by MBIE as part of the Result 9 initiative. Result 9 has a goal of making it 25% easier for businesses to interact with government. The Accelerator came into existence by asking government agencies "where do you see business struggling to interact with your services?" Agencies then proposed problem areas they thought were important. From this pool of problems twelve were selected based on whether they were suited to being solved in an accelerator environment, which means they were judged on whether they could be solved through a business model solution. By solving these problems with business models, government reduces their own workload while working towards the Result 9 goal.

Traject were selected to try and reduce the skills shortage within the IT sector. Immigration New Zealand put this problem into the Accelerator, so we were set to work alongside them to try and alleviate this shortage by making it easier to bring migrants in who can do these jobs.

Problem Discovery

Over the three months of the Accelerator we spoke with over 150 people from tech companies, industry rep organisations, the immigration industry, and academic institutions. From this research we honed in on a couple of different specific problems:
1) that the Employer Accreditation scheme would attract more people if applications could be done online, and
2) that the IT sector is missing out on skilled people who want to move to NZ but don't currently qualify for the Skilled Migrant Visa because they don't have formal IT qualifications.


Tackling Problem 1 is simple, we're going to put Employer Accreditation online and create a smart form that extracts the necessary information from applicants.

Tackling Problem 2 is a little more difficult. At present, Immigration looks at formal qualifications, such as a degree, as a proxy for skills. Our solution is to actually look at the skills a migrant has. Immigration does not possess the capacity to assess the skills for a specialised industry like IT, especially given the rate at which the industry moves.

Through our research we have found that the best way to assess the skills necessary to work in the IT sector, is to have people who work in the industry to carry out the Assessments.

Simple, right?

Well, not really... Any test needs to be able to achieve two main criteria:
* Is it valid? i.e. are we testing what we think we're testing.
* Is it reliable? i.e. can we repeat the test with the same subjects and produce consistent results.

There may be thousands of people using this service, therefore it has to be robust, dynamic, and consistent. This has influence over whether someone can live in NZ or not, so the decisions made through it must be defensible.

Anything involved in the visa process needs to meet another criterion:
* Is it incorruptible?

People will go to extreme lengths to gain NZ residency, including pay exorbitant sums of money. So whatever process we implement for Assessment it must be transparent and accountable at every step.

Ok, how do you achieve that?

That's why we're here. Over the next month we're hosting a series of focus groups to get ideas from all stakeholders within the industry. This way the solution we come up with will not only meet that criteria, but it does so with the support from industry. This forum is a place for discussion of how to approach this problem, and how to produce an effective solution.

Please feel free to ask questions in this thread about the project and problem as a whole, and check out the other threads to contribute to the development of our Skills Assessment process.