REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE 2005

    REPORT


    report from Jan Francis,
    Executive Officer of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs


    TASKFORCE MEETING WITH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS 2005

  • Twenty Mayors and Deputies met with government officials from the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, the Tertiary Education Commission and Career Services to discuss the Taskforce strategy and the partnership with government agencies. Mayor Jenny Brash (Porirua) Chaired the meeting which was informative and a useful beginning for the year ahead.

    There was general discussion about the resource needs of Mayors at the local level to assist with co-ordination and project development for local ideas. Mike Smith (National Operations Manager, MSD) noted that the new Community Labour Market Development Managers (MSD) and the Labour Market Knowledge Managers (DOL) could play a role here with regard to co-ordination, particularly of labour market information and government agencies working together. He undertook to keep the Taskforce informed on the progress of this work. The Ministry of Social Development takes over this function from the Community Employment Group on 1st April and will be the lead agency for the work, working closely with the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. A website, hosted by Department of Labour, with all information regarding Youth Transitions will be in place by July this year. The issue of staff support for Mayors will be further discussed with officials and the Taskforce Core Group.

    There was discussion concerning the effective use of government money at the local level. Concern was expressed about the difficulty of accessing this information. Mike Smith told the meeting that the Ministry of Social Development would be putting together information from their department on the amount being spent on youth programmes. This will be posted on their website in the near future. Other officials agreed to work together to get this information at the TLA level. This information would be useful for Council Long Term Council Community Plans and it was noted that relationships needed to be developed with government agencies as they were required to have input into these plans. Work and Income Regional Commissioners have a role to play here and Mayors could facilitate collective meetings with the Regional Commissioners and other officials at the local and regional level.

    Concern was also expressed about the numbers of people as young as 12_13 presenting with drug and alcohol problems which would then affect their ability to participate in the community as they reached school leaving ages. It was agreed that there were a number of initiatives around the country looking at this problem and this information needed to be shared between communities. Jan Francis will follow this up with the relevant agencies. Mayor Maureen Reynolds (Tararua) suggested the Taskforce develop a partnership with the Ministry of Justice's Crime Prevention Unit and she undertook to arrange an initial meeting.

    Skill shortages, ITO's and Industry Training were also discussed. Kim Ulberg noted that the Tertiary Education Commission had previously provided information to Mayors on how this was being addressed. Jan has this information if any Mayors have not received it.

    Career Services gave information on the Designing Careers project which is being piloted in seventy-five schools over the next two years, after which it is hoped to be rolled out to all secondary schools. The project involves developing individual career learning plans for all year ten students. Parents, teachers, caregivers and career advisors will be involved in drawing up the plans. Plans will be reviewed annually. Career Services are providing pilot schools with support and resources. Resources are available to other schools via the Career Services website. Designing Careers is a step towards improving the provision of career information, advice and guidance within schools. The list of schools involved in the pilot is available on the Career Services website at www.careers.govt.nz .

    Overall the meeting was positive with officials agreeing to ensure that Taskforce members would be kept informed and that officials at the local level would work closely with their Mayors.


    MAYORS TASKFORCE BREAKFAST MEETING

    MINISTERS HON JIM ANDERTON AND HON STEVE MAHAREY.

  • Twenty six Mayors and Deputies met informally with Ministers. They were welcomed by the Mayor of Napier (Barbara Arnott) who expressed interest in the work of the Taskforce and announced that she and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule would become members. Steve Maharey praised the Mayors for their leadership on the jobs issue and the positive work that was happening in their communities. He acknowledged that the country still needed more jobs, but better jobs too, which could be delivered through greater productivity. He suggested that raising wage levels and productivity were areas that the Taskforce and the government could work on at this time. Jim Anderton also acknowledged the work of Mayors and their importance to growing regional economies. He also saw the challenge being in increasing productivity and lifting wages. The challenge was to increase innovation and work smarter and this would require a continual increase in skill levels. He also noted that older workers would have a role here and that the Taskforce may wish to look at this group in the future.

    This was an excellent meeting, with Ministers and Mayors showing full support and commitment to the Taskforce vision and activities.


    MAYORS TASKFORCE WORKSHOP

  • There was an excellent turnout for the workshop run in conjunction with Economic Development Agencies of New Zealand (EDANZ). The workshop highlighted the need for economic development and employment initiatives to be collaborating. Examples of youth initiatives, from Porirua and Manukau were presented. We have since had excellent feedback noting the inspirational nature of the speakers and initiatives and the practical presentations.

    The presentations are available from Jan Francis.


    CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS


    GOVERNMENT MINISTERS

  • The politicians gave inspiring addresses encouraging regional development and praising those working in regional and local agencies and at the political level.

    Prime Minister — Helen Clark
    The Prime Minister outlined the successes of regional development over the last six years pointing to the excellent work being done at the local and regional level, particularly by working collaboratively with central government and their agencies. She reminded delegates that the changing international environment demands that we continue to assess our strategies and actions and continue to grow and develop prosperous, confident regions.

    Hon Jim Anderton
    Jim Anderton noted that the most urgent priorities were lifting rates of labour productivity and innovation and addressing the skill shortages which are the single biggest constraint on growth in many regions. He commented on the need for regions to make a serious and ongoing commitment to involving communities in their development and to work together at building on strengths.

    Hon Steve Maharey
    Steve Maharey reminded everyone that economic and social development are inseparable. He stated that the most fundamental way of achieving positive social and economic outcomes is through the labour market and employment. Steve spoke about the three labour market imperatives of participation, work life balance and productivity. The government sees participation as a priority, recognising that paid employment is one of the most important mechanisms for sharing economic growth. However he was clear that we also needed to look at the quality and sustainability of work to stop the disillusioning poor work/no work cycle. He noted that we cannot expect people to participate in the economy without addressing underlying social issues such as family violence and drug abuse. He gave some examples of the economic costs of social problems such as family violence, drug abuse and obesity and noted the dangers of measures of progress based solely on GDP. A limitation of the GDP measure is that is gives no value to equity - the economy can grow as inequality and poverty increase. Indicators are very powerful — what we measure reflects what we value as a society and determines what makes it onto the policy agenda. With regard to flexibility and participation he suggested that we need to divide work up differently and share it amongst more people and be responsive to individual needs in order to ensure the balance between paid work and life outside of this work suits each individual. He noted that New Zealanders, on average, tend to work very long hours, being second only to those of Japan amongst the OECD countries and in some cases these long hours can result in poor social outcomes.

    In noting the importance of social reporting, he spoke of the recent policy approved by cabinet to make it mandatory for a social indicators report to be published at least every two years. He noted also the importance of the Long Term Council Community Plans which requires reporting against a quadruple bottom line of economic, cultural and environmental indicators, whilst also acknowledging that Councils could not be expected to undertake this work alone or in isolation from other major institutions.

    The key message from the Ministers speech was that:

    "what makes good economic sense for your region must also make good social sense. It is absolutely fruitless to confront regional economic challenges in isolation from social challenges. We need to recognise that social problems such as unemployment, poverty, inequality and family violence carry economic costs of health care, crime, and loss of innovation potential by waste of human assets".

    Hon Parekura Horomia
    Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia gave a stimulating address to the conference focusing on Maori achievement over recent times. He reported from the recent Hui Taumata which had highlighted economic factors such as the growth in the capability of Maori managers and Maori asset base, increases in the number of Maori who own their own businesses and the rise of Maori corporate bodies engaging with mainstream and international businesses. By far the biggest earner and contribution Maori make to the economy is participation in the labour market. Maori households earn $4.3 billion in wages and salaries each year. Maori unemployment is now down to an all time low. Parekura noted that our demographics tell us the state of Maoridom is now of youthful intelligence, energy and expectancy. Combined with a growing economy this creates a positive context for future prosperity. He, like other Ministers, emphasised the need for partnerships, collaboration with local government and businesses, with private and voluntary sector organisations and with international organisations and businesses. The Minister concluded by noting that our economic future as Maori and non-Maori in this country is inextricably entwined and that the conference must be a springboard for embracing a collective effort between regional bodies, iwi, hapu and other Maori organisations. Working inclusively with a sense of unity and cohesion is the critical lynchpin of regional development. Development only has power if it reflects the aspirations of all the people represented in a local community.

    Ministers' speeches are available on the government website. www.beehive.govt.nz


    PANEL

    - PETER HUBSCHER, DAVEY HUGHES & TOM FURNESS
  • A panel comprising Peter Hubscher (Montana Wines), Davey Hughes (Swazi Clothing) and Tom Furness (H.I.T.Lab) provided the conference with examples of economic development from the business level.

    Peter Hubsher
    Peter Hubsher said that he felt the country was wanting to encourage innovation but was training the wrong people, noting the decline in engineering, food technology and horticulture students _ these areas being where New Zealand could make significant gains. He also commented on pay rates which he said were too low to attract and retain our innovative people. We could use smallness as an advantage with teams of very smart people working together flexibly.

    Davey Hughes
    Davey Hughes noted his reason for manufacturing in Levin was the existing skilled workforce, the proximity to distribution networks and his desire to work in New Zealand and employ New Zealanders. He has also set up a training programme to ensure replacement of his workforce, which had an average age of 50plus. His business has employed 43 staff over the last 22 months and grown 34% in the last 10 years. He also commented on the difficulties involved with gaining Trade and Enterprise grants and the onerous compliance measures.

    Tom Furness
    Tom Furness outlined the programmes involved with the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) which now operated both in Washington and Canterbury. The HIT Lab US at the University of Washington has become one of the worlds leading virtual reality research labs. The laboratory works with University students and industry to further the concept of virtual interface technologies. His interesting address concluded that the future for growth and development would be in these virtual technologies.

    Mary Logue
    (Future Leaders Programme — The New Zealand Leadership Institute in Auckland)
    Mary Logue challenged the audience to connect and communicate directly with the young people in their communities, noting that involving young people was much the same as acting as parents. She noted it was important that young people were able to engage with leaders as this showed the community cared about their views, opinions and participation.


    KEY CHALLENGES FROM THE CONFERENCE

  • In closing the conference, Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton noted that the most urgent need was to deliver a standard of living and quality sufficient to provide a future for young New Zealanders in every region. From discussions at the conference he saw the challenges as answering questions like:

    — Are we addressing the right issues?
    — Are our programmes working?
    — Are our institutions able to deliver?
    — Do we need to look at a number of sub-regional, smaller programmes within regions, and better integration of local and regional strategies?

    All programmes are currently under review and the Ministry will be seeking answers to these and other questions. He said we need to lift our tolerance of risk and change the cultural expectation to one of celebration of success not condemnation of failure. We also need to nurture our young people if we are to give them a guarantee of an economic future which uses all their skills and talents.

    Developing our own networks and partnerships is vital and economic development agencies have a crucial role in creating and implementing development strategies.

    The conference was attended by a wide cross section of people and feedback from the Mayors attending was very positive. They had made excellent contacts with other Mayors and CEO's, business, community agencies and government officials. Many intend to follow up the contacts made and use the expertise from other regions within their own areas when developing economic development and employment strategies.

    Jan Francis
    Executive Officer
    Mayors Taskforce for Jobs
    03-3848212
    0274529584
    Email j.francis@clear.net,nz