WG5 – Growing the AI Talent Pool

Encouraging Kiwis to choose AI related careers

There is both a strong global demand for AI specialists (including machine learning experts and data scientists) and an increasing supply shortage.

This working group on ‘Growing the AI Talent Pool’ will look at how we can:

  • Increase the number of students taking AI courses at universities
  • Offer essential non-technical courses and short courses
  • Attract international talent to bridge the short-term supply gap
  • Introduce AI to students at school to encourage the choice of AI-related fields as a career

How we’re doing it

We are:

  • Conducting research: to scope out the key topics
  • Surveying key stakeholders: including employers
  • Raising awareness: by blogging, attending hui, joining the conversation and presenting our findings to education influencers
  • Engaging experts: such as employers, recruiters, technology educators, and government departments

Working Group Leadership:

Matt Boyd (lead)

Matt Bartlett (comms)

Louise Tayor

Mike Watts

Gerald Minnee

Brendan McCane

And others who have joined the conversation…

Our work covers 3 themes:

  • Increasing the supply of AI talent
  • Encouraging AI student diversity
  • Teaching AI in Schools

Current Initiatives

We have completed seven short scoping reports across these themes, which helped focus our attention on the areas of most need.

We’ve been engaging with stakeholders including technology educators, employers, the Ministry of Education and MBIE

In 2019 we aim to complete:

  • A survey of businesses: to identify key barriers to the supply of AI talent; also demand for local short courses and non-technical AI courses (ethics, law, management, social consequences)
  • Delivery of a workshop: offering practical suggestions for how non-specialist teachers can introduce AI concepts in high school subjects
  • Delivery of a presentation: highlighting the importance of introducing AI concepts in schools targeting technology educators at key meetings
  • Scoping of a plan: to work with teachers to develop an initial learning module supporting an introductory classroom session on AI (and make this freely available)
  • We will also regularly blog about our research and conversations


Report on Interview Survey with Employers of AI Talent in NZ

The following ranked themes emerged from a recent non-random interview survey of nine firms working with AI in New Zealand conducted by members of the AI Forum’s WG5 team. These themes illustrate the kinds of issues that firms using AI face in attracting and nurturing AI talent and developing a sufficiently diverse AI workforce. These themes will inform the working group’s future advice on what responses might be considered in New Zealand (in conjunction with other evidence and analysis). 

View here

Areas of interest for future

Moving forward we are very keen to explore possible synergy with organizations that are helping to develop the skills and capabilities of technology teachers. This will help grow New Zealand’s capacity to grow diverse talent at home.


We are mindful that curricula change slowly, and we aim to work with rather than against ongoing developments such as the Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko curriculum refresh, and innovations by tertiary institutes.

Get involved

Are you an expert or a motivated technology education champion?

  • We would love to hear from any technology educators, teachers, trainers, or anyone who has an interest in further integrating AI talent development into technology education in New Zealand at all levels (schools, tertiary institutions, or ongoing professional development). Contact us here