A competitive economy depends on many factors, and the Government’s business growth agenda is systematically addressing the key ones to boost New Zealand’s competitiveness.
A more competitive economy is less likely to suffer from problems with growth, exchange rates or unemployment.
The report, ‘Building Skilled and Safe Workplace,’ released by the Government on October 9, outlines progress being made in the ‘people’ factors that contribute to competitiveness, including in-demand skills, productivity and workplace safety.
Progress in lifting education achievement, targeting qualifications in needed areas such as engineering and IT, helping people move from benefits into work, reviewing workplace safety, attracting skilled migrants and introducing systems for better skills matching is welcome.
The business community has been asking for better skills policies along with better policies to support exports, innovation and other factors necessary for a competitive economy.
The scope of change that is required for higher competitiveness is huge and much more needs to be done, but this report gives some assurance that the Government is beginning to make progress in essential areas.
Wages for teenagers
A starting-out wage will help get more young people into jobs, because having to pay unskilled teenagers at adult rates makes it hard for many young people to get a job.
Not being able to get that initial job prevents many young people from gaining workplace skills, further reducing their future employment chances.
A starting-out wage at 80% of the minimum wage for the first six months of employment will make it easier to employ a young person so they can gain those vital workplace skills.
The policy announced on October 9 would particularly benefit teenagers who were vulnerable to being trapped on a benefit through being unable to compete effectively for a first job.
Costing indicates that with accommodation and other applicable subsidies unaffected, a teenager on a starting-out wage would earn more than if on a benefit.
Getting more young people into jobs – especially including those currently on a benefit – will benefit the economy and communities all through New Zealand.
Phil O’Reilly is Chief Executive of BusinessNZ based in Wellington. He was the guest speaker at the Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture 2012 held at the Stamford Plaza Hotel on July 30, 2012. Website: www.businessnz.org.nz