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IT Skills Shortage and Sustainable Development

IT Skills Shortage and Sustainable Development Issues High on APEC Science Ministers' Meeting Agenda

Worldwide Shortage of IT Skills and Sustainable Development Issues High on APEC Science Ministers' Meeting Agenda Media Release Issued by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 4th Ministers' Meeting on Regional Science and Technology Cooperation

Christchurch, New Zealand, March 10, 2004 -- APEC Science and Technology Ministers will look at solutions to the worldwide shortage of information technology skills when they meet in Christchurch, New Zealand, this week.

Other issues before the 4th APEC Ministers' Meeting on Regional Science and Technology Cooperation relate to ensuring scientific and technological advancement is sustainable for all economies in the region.

The New Zealand Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Hon. Pete Hodgson, said while advances in science and technology are creating new opportunities, there is concern to ensure that requirements that come with these advances are sustainable for all APEC Member Economies.

"Scientific and technological discovery is moving at a dramatic pace and this has numerous implications for the global economy," Mr. Hodgson said.

"On the one hand we have new opportunities to develop increasingly effective medicines, improve living standards and develop products that are more environmentally friendly.

"At the same time breakthroughs in the science and technology sector require a much more highly skilled and specialized workforce to make the most of these opportunities.

"The problem for many developing areas is how they develop the skill base to fully compete in the new digital economy and not be left behind.

"Investment in human capacity building initiatives and ongoing education programs are essential if all APEC Member Economies are to fully compete in the modern global economy.

"Ministers at this meeting will have the opportunity to look at capacity building initiatives and ways to improve the scientific and information technology skills of people throughout the Asia-Pacific."

The theme of the Science Ministers' Meeting is "Enhancing the capacity of science, technology and innovation to deliver sustainable growth across the APEC region."

Mr. Hodgson said the City of Christchurch had welcomed delegates from APEC Member Economies and he expects the series of working visits by delegates to New Zealand smart industries would build firmer science and IT links around the APEC region.

Ministers will be greeted by a traditional Maori greeting tonight at the Christchurch Town Hall before the formal opening of the meeting by Mr. Hodgson, on Thursday Morning.

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