The 2017 NZ Election – What this means for digital

You would be forgiven for not hearing about the consortium of New Zealand’s 20 leading professional bodies and tech associations which released a manifesto on New Zealand’s digital future 4 months ago.

After all its election year and most issues that have been raised are more about social issues and broad statements on the economy.

This is where the NZ digital manifesto comes in.

The leading associations and professional bodies in New Zealand’s technology sector have collaborated on this manifesto to make a meaningful contribution to the agenda of political parties.

They don’t take a partisan stance.

And it’s important to mention we won’t be endorsing specific parties, only mentioning parties that have a policy related to the tech industry consortium guidelines..

So there are some key points in this manifesto which we are going to look at and see which party listened.

Digital accounts for 8% of NZ’s GDP which makes it the third largest sector in the country.

And the consortium had some issues they raised.

Education

“At work, the relatively young tech sector employs a rapidly growing number of people, is frequently found to be amongst the highest paid professions and has the potential to redefine the economic development of New Zealand.

Digital technology has the potential to not only propel our economic position on the world stage but also to make New Zealanders everyday life better.

However, this can only happen if we equip and empower our people with the skills and knowledge they need for the digital world.”

They recommended to the Government the following:

  • Give Digital Technologies significant focus, profile and standing as a core and central component of the New Zealand Curriculum, and in every child’s education pathway.
  • Invest more in teaching resources, professional development and support for the teaching of Digital Technologies in schools.
  • Require every school to teach, and report on, the Digital Technologies curricula up to Year 10, and encourage all schools to provide Digital Technologies at years 11-13 (NCEA level).
  • Address the significant shortage of teachers with strong digital technology skills by substantially increasing the number of TeachNZ scholarships available for aspiring digital technology teachers, and requiring all Initial Teacher Education providers to provide compulsory coverage of this area.
  • Invest heavily in upskilling existing teachers with skills and knowledge to confidently teach Digital Technologies.
  • Investigate the international use of alternate teaching methods such as leveraging student led learning to further enhance Digital Technology capabilities in schools.

Now its the parties turn..

Labour, National, Greens were the only ones that specified technology learning as important.

While all parties increased education funding, upskilling teachers as a priority was limited to the aforementioned three.

It’s not only education as digital today disrupts and will continue to disrupt how we work.

Employment/Training/Infrastructure

The consortium had this to say

“New digital technologies are driving economic and social change. This disruption affects all sectors of the economy and is dramatically changing how we work.

Not only will we be working differently, we will also be doing different work, with many of today’s jobs vanishing and the creation of new roles, many of which we haven’t yet imagined.

The changing work landscape poses many challenges for the organisation of our economy and how workplaces function.

The notion of a static workplace is likely to fade, transport infrastructure will need to adapt as places of work move and ubiquitous connectivity will be paramount. ”

So as part of their recommendations, they offered this to the parties to consider.

  • Commence positive conversations about change and encourage individuals and organisations to consider their options.
  • Adopt and implement flexible approaches to work across Government.
  • Develop and trial programmes to support better in-work and interjob training for those working in Government and the private sector.
  • Ensure people who face disruption and changes in their circumstances can access the best support, at the right time so they can continue contributing to society.
  • Commission quality research into changing workplace trends and how New Zealand can win the race.

But did any of the parties listen?

Well in regards to flexibility and interjob training NZ First, The Maori Party and labour were the only ones willing to invest cash into a similar type scheme but werent specific on an specific industry, while National’s interjob training was focused mainly on the agriculture sector itself they did priortise youth training which technically would also come under education.

In terms of R&D nearly all the parties committed something, but it was the Greens who were the only ones to put aside spending for technology to implement, albeit green technology.

As for adapting the infrastructure the Greens, Labour, National and NZ first were the only parties so far to have a specific infrastructure in place.

But it’s the Green and NZ First parties that were the most willing to invest and adapt the infrastructure with in-depth strategies that targeted not only businesses but the public as well.

While access was a concern for everyone overall all parties are willing to invest in the infrastructure to ensure access to all.

Immigration and Skills

Now it’s already a well-known fact that the  IT industry continues to experience a significant shortage of individuals with specialist skills and expertise in New Zealand. This is the largest impediment to growth in our sector and is a significant issue for the economy as a whole. For example,

This is the largest impediment to growth in the tech sector and is a significant issue for the economy as a whole. For example,

For example, PriceWaterhouseCoopers 2016 Annual CEO Survey found that 84% of New Zealand CEOs – of both tech and non-tech companies – are concerned about shortage of skills, primarily in the digital and IT arena.

The consortium offered these:

  • Ensure there are minimal impediments to migration to New Zealand for individuals with specialist tech industry skills that can’t currently be met by New Zealanders.
  • Understand that immigration is crucial for economic growth in the tech sector, and ensure immigration policy does not reduce or restrict the number of genuinely skilled migrants able to come to New Zealand to support the growth of our sector.
  • Implement a more robust assessment process for immigrant skills for digital and tech occupations, including independent assessment by experts with experience within these subject domains to ensure a close match with areas of genuine un-met demand.
  • Understand that New Zealand’s industry is competing for talent on an international stage and that clear, unambiguous and welcoming immigration policy is essential.

So what parties said what:

You’d have to be living under a rock to not see how parties have handled immigration but in General, they all tend to follow these guidelines one way or another.

You will have your own opinion on Immigration which has probably already been answered by one of the policies of the parties already so we won’t digress any further.

The Economy

As mentioned the digital sector is the third largest sector in NZ.

Continued economic growth is required to ensure we have the resources available to look after our society and continually improve the standard of living for all New Zealanders.

However, the relatively small size of our domestic market constrains the potential for New Zealand businesses to grow.

The ability for businesses to sell their goods and services to customers in overseas markets is critical.

 

So the consortium has made these recommendations:

  • Increase investment in both direct and indirect R&D support and early-stage accelerators.
  • Create programmes to support clusters of small firms to grow digital exports.
  • Collaborate with industry to create an international positioning for New Zealand as a world class digital nation, providing tech exporters with the ability to leverage off each other’s success.
  • Continued development and improvement of our privacy and regulatory frameworks as a trusted nation for global enterprises to base themselves.
  • Create an all-of-government (including local government) strategy for Foreign Direct Investment and relocation inquiries and evaluate our international competitiveness regarding incentives.
  • Ensure an environment where business can flourish, grow and export.
  • Recognise its role as the main influencer of domestic industry success, by making use of their products and services.

And back to the parties…

Its the Greens that have a specific Kickstarter fund for green technologies but it’s Labour who are aiming to make the digital sector the 2nd largest sector in NZ.

Meanwhile, National has no set goal for the industry but will invest in the infrastructure to make it easier for businesses to sell their services overseas.

While NZ First wants to preference given to NZ companies for government tenders over overseas companies.

So roughly that is the overview of the tech industry consortium recommendations and what the NZ parties are promising.

But don’t just take my word for it.

Be informed.

You can visit http://www.interest.co.nz/news/election-2017-policies which compares policies of each party.

And you can read the full manifesto here

 

 

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Charis McAwesome

Charis McAwesome is a social media client project manager to companies including Microsoft, Intel, Lenovo, Deloitte, banks and many more on behalf of Digivizer. By day, she provides digital strategy and big data analysis, by night she may provide news on the podcast & when she doesn't, makes up for it by writing articles instead.