Helen Clark’s opening presentation to the business leaders forum in Auckland yesterday ought to have encouraged IT leaders.
“We are taking it as read that New Zealand must speed up its economic transformation to becoming a knowledge-driven economy and society and that achieving that is our key challenge," she said.
Clark’s speech made mention of a number of issues dear to IT companies’ hearts, including the skills shortage, immigration issues as well as research and development and a number of more mainstream business issues, like the changes made to employment legislation.
“The vision is to see New Zealanders as innovators to the world, turning great ideas into great ventures.”
Clark said there was room for improvement in the education arena and the government is seeking input on how it can better encourage students to attend tertiary education.
“The economy is short right now of around 1000 software engineers,” saidClark, citing this is a “real opportunity” for young New Zealanders with the right skills.
“Chief executives in the high-tech sectors are working with us right now on how to turn the digital divide into a digital opportunity.”
Foreign investment was also high on Clark’s agenda, along with immigration policy’s failings.
“Without doubt New Zealand’s immigration policy and procedures have been too slow to adapt to the fast changing global labour market and its premium on skills.”
Clark wants to see new ideas on immigration in general, along with ideas on “how to spread migration gains beyond the major cities”.
Clark’s vision extended out to the 10-year mark, as she set herself the qusetion: How will New Zealand look after a decade of knowledge revolution?
“Our country would be made up of a series of ‘global villages’ which attract and nurture talent.”
Clark said New Zealand would be making “best possible use of information and communication technology” and would become an innovator in those ideas.
Clark finished her speech with a call for business and government to work together to achieve these goals.
“Some may want to work on specific initiatives arising from today ... others may wish to form loose networks to liaise with ministers."