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Jul 16, 2015

Think globally, plan regionally and act locally

"There are lots of great initiatives happening around New Zealand to help regions grow, but there is still a lot that can be done. This was my biggest take away from attending the New Zealand and Australia Economic Development Forum."

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The conference started with a half day study tour, visiting the FoodBowl and Grid AKL.  It then followed with two days of formal presentations, discussions and networking.  There were 150 people from across the country as well as about a dozen from Australia.  Attendees were from the local economic development agencies, Chambers of Commerce, local councils, tertiary institutions and central government agencies.

The theme of the conference was “think globally, plan regionally and act locally”.  It was good to hear about different initiatives happening in different regions, and the challenges and successes that each had.  There were good discussions at several levels and despite their differences there were common threads when it comes to economic development:

  • The need for community drive
  • The interconnecting roles of local government, central government and private sector
  • The power of collaboration
  • The importance of the Māori economy
  • The focus needed on innovation and skills development
  • The skills shortages in key areas needed for growth such as Primary Industries and ICT

It was a great conference and I was pleased that Samantha Seath, CEO for EDANZ, extended an invitation to attend not only to myself but to four teachers as well.

You may ask what was the relevance of the conference to myself and the teachers, all of whom gave up 2 ½ days during their school holidays.   Throughout the conference, another theme was the importance of youth.  This was reflected in several manners – the potential of youth, the challenge of youth unemployment and the increasing labour shortage in key areas such as our primary industries.

Certainly, we believe Young Enterprise programmes can help in this area.  During one of the sessions, Brett O’Riley (CEO for Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development Agency) commented to the entire room that “if schools believe in the future of economic development and the future of youth they need to run Young Enterprise”.  He then went on to say that he believed all schools should run Young Enterprise and said he’s challenged his own team to make this happen to all 80 or so secondary schools in Auckland.

But ultimately it was the enthusiasm and feedback from the teachers that attended which showed the relevance.

Chris Burgess from Long Bay College said that it was great for him to see a pathway for his students, and that “it was good to hear the messages that thinking innovatively and creatively were being recognised by the EDAs”.

Charlotte Milne from Pakuranga College said that what stood out to her was “the mis-alignment of what careers are being taught in schools and what is needed”.  According to Charlotte, this highlights the “importance of finding out what businesses need” and that it’s the teacher’s role to get the students there.

And finally, Shirley Upton from Auckland Seventh Day Adventist School commented that “It was amazing to hear, absorb and realise a much wider picture of future economic potential and development not only in our region but right across New Zealand.  I now have a ‘real’ snapshot of where we could be and how YES is making a difference to ease youth unemployment.”

Terry Shubkin is the CEO of Young Enterprise Trust, and attended  the New Zealand and Australia Economic Development Forum as a guest of EDANZ.