A Tale of Two Cities: Meet the people enjoying Auckland's economic party

22 May 2018 Posted in IT

Alpha Personnel Recruitment are very proud to have introduced Ivan Rivera (Senior Data Scientist) to Simon Shepherd (Reporter & Presenter for News Mediaworks)

Post Courtesy of Newshub and Simon Shepherd


The difference between Auckland's haves and have nots is reported to be the worst in decades.

In part one of our Tale of Two Cities series, we revealed who's been left behind in Auckland’s economic growth.

In part two - in collaboration with Stuff journalist Carmen Parahi - Simon Shepherd looks at which areas top Auckland's Prosperity Index and who can actually afford to buy a house.

Auckland has been having an economic party, but unfortunately not everyone has been invited.

But these are the people with the VIP ticket.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Infometrics' Prosperity Index shows the five local boards of Albert-Eden, Devonport-Takapuna, Ōrākei, Upper Harbour and Waitematā dominate all the measures such as income, household prosperity, and access to jobs and internet connectivity.

The most prosperous of them all is in Auckland's East - Ōrākei, which is the most prosperous part of town.

Auckland's leafy east includes suburbs like St Heliers, which has a median house price of $1.7 million.

Ivan and Alena Rivera own a townhouse in St Heliers. He's 29, she's 33. How did they get together enough money to buy a house there?

"Saving 8 percent in our Kiwisaver straight away has definitely helped, and then eventually our salaries have grown," Mrs Rivera said.

The Ōrākei local board area is full of good salaries. It tops the ranking of household incomes, $30,000 above the Auckland average of $76,000.

On the home prosperity index, Orakei is also number one.

For Mr and Mrs Rivera, their jobs mean they can meet repayments. She’s an accountant, he a data scientist - a profession smack-bang in the middle of the war for talent.

"I think there is a lot of demand out there, and I don't think the supply is matching the demand just yet,” Mr Rivera said.

That's a little understated. In 2016, there were 14,000 new jobs in IT - but only 5000 new graduates. We imported another 5500 workers, leaving a shortfall of 3400.

That's driving up wages.

Even in 2015, the average wage in "computer systems design" in New Zealand was $100,000 - the New Zealand average is $53,000.

John Bolton of Squirrel Mortgages said his firm sees young people form the IT sector earning high wages.

"What we are seeing is couples potentially both working in IT and both on incomes of $100,000-120,000 a year so you are getting up to $250,000 of income for people who are still in the 20s."

The tech sector is the sector that's going nuts.

Aliesha Staples founded a virtual and augmented reality production company - her sector, Digital Media, grew 30 percent last year.

“It's just getting bigger and better all the time. I can't even do a business plan any more - we just threw it away every two weeks," Ms Staples said.

Most recently, Ms Staples produced a VR training video for Jetstar, so the airline could save money by not grounding an actual plane.

Ms Staples has worked on major movie titles and has designed a VR crime scene training programme to cut down on mistakes at real crime scenes.

"New Zealand is inventing new Industries and digital mediums, and our VR is world-leading. There are so many world-firsts coming out of our VR/AR industry," she said.

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is building for the future.

It's about to open a new $120 million building dedicated to so-called STEM subjects - Science Technology Engineering and Maths.

But even when they train them, it doesn't mean graduates stay in New Zealand.

Dave Parry, Head of the Department of Computer Science, said it's becoming harder to keep graduates in New Zealand.

"It's more and more difficult to bring them back, simply because the differential in salaries and things like house prices is so large in Auckland that its very hard for them to justify in may cases."

Which brings us back to Alena and Ivan, who rented out their St Heliers townhouse because they're moving to Berlin - Ivan has been poached.

"We will come back at some point, but we are just not sure are which point," Mrs Rivera said.

For Auckland and New Zealand's sake, let's hope they do.


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