So how do we keep growth happening? How do we lift New Zealand’s longer term growth rate so that we add more jobs, reach our potential, and become a true “Pacific Tiger” rather than just a short-term success story? I think there are several key things:
1. Keep opening our markets and building strong people to people relationships. The lesson of the China FTA is obvious. If we can get a good TPP deal, then we should grab it – along with other FTA and trade opportunities.
2. Innovate, innovate and innovate. The National-led Government is putting a lot of taxpayers’ money into assisting firms and their ideas. As a country we are starting to see the power of innovation in our industries but we need to keep lifting private sector investment in research and development to international norms.
3. Keep building the skills of a successful and innovative trading nation. Encourage more of our young people into the careers that breed innovation, like engineering, ICT, and science.
4. Encourage more capital to invest in New Zealand. The mixed ownership programme has helped set up a stellar year for our stock exchange. We need to build on that. Capital investment in competitive industries creates sustainable jobs.
5. We need to keep removing red tape and provide certainty to investors, especially in resource industries. That means making decisions quickly and effectively, while also working to improve environmental outcomes.
6. We need to keep building infrastructure to support a growth-oriented country. Great progress has been made in electricity transmission and ultra-fast broadband. Those projects need to be finished. And we need to keep investing in our transport systems for safety and efficiency. That means high-quality four-lane roads in and out of our main centres, resilient highways elsewhere, and quality public transport that people want to use.
Finally – and above all – we need to make responsible fiscal and economic decisions that keep the tax burden low and pay off debt. We need to keep rewarding New Zealanders with efficient public services and lower income taxes than elsewhere. It’s talented, hard-working Kiwis who get out of bed every day that make all this happen. Kiwis strive and succeed because they see the benefits of their hard work. If politicians keep remembering that then New Zealand will truly become a Pacific Tiger.
In terms of the skills referred to in No 3, Joyce also announced yesterday:
“Four years ago we had a highly complicated vocational training system in New Zealand with a total of 39 separate industry training organisations and more than 4500 separate qualifications”, Mr Joyce says.
“ITOs were falling over each other and had signed up many trainees that were trainees in name only. Single employers were in some cases having to deal with a number of ITOs.
“With the latest ITO merger just prior to Christmas, we start this year with only 14 Industry Training Organisations,” Mr Joyce says. “This smaller number of generally larger scale organisations means that they can provide a better service to trainees and employers. There is now, for example, just one ITO for the primary sector – down from seven ITOs three years ago.
The number of qualifications at the vocational level has also been reduced. There were 4610 separate qualifications at Levels 1 to 6 at the beginning of 2011 and this has been reduced by 63 per cent so far to less than 1750 by the end of last year. The current targeted review of qualifications seeks to have the number reduced to around 1300 by the end of this year.
4,610 different trade qualifications was insanely high.
“We had a huge spaghetti of qualifications at sub-degree level in this country,” Mr Joyce says. “It was difficult for learners to decide when and how to study, and difficult for employers to understand the nature and quality of the different qualifications. The targeted review has meant that we have reduced, for example, 213 ICT qualifications to 14, and similarly 69 mechanical engineering qualifications have been reduced to nine.
213 ICT qualifications!!