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Tuning The Jobs Machine - Anderton Speech

Hon. Jim Anderton
23 January 2001 Speech Notes

Tuesday, 23 January 2001


Release of BIZ and BIZ info research

Beehive Foyer
Parliament Buildings

I would like to welcome you all here today for the release of the research evaluation into the Business Development Programme.

Before I outline the findings of the research I would like to take a few minutes to talk about economic development and the challenges ahead.

In the last fourteen months I have been on 24 major regional visits, made 59 media statements on economic development, met with thousands of New Zealanders and been overseas looking at ways to improve investment in our regions.

I have had a few days off since Parliament rose in December and in that time I have reflected on the issues and how I think we are doing.

When this Labour Alliance Coalition Government was elected with a mandate for change in 1999 we knew there was a lot to be done. The challenges went right across all the policies and operations of Government and included:
 restoring people's faith in Government;
 a broad range of social issues, such as health, education, social welfare and housing;
 and developing our economy to support the creation of satisfying well paid, sustainable jobs to help secure the social and economic future of all New Zealanders.

The future of New Zealand lies in the hands of New Zealanders. No one else is going to come and save us and our way of life. We have to work together to secure a better future for our country.

We can't create sustainable jobs and business and industry without working in partnership.

The Enterprise Awards Scheme is one such partnership programme.

Grants can be made up to $10,000 for the development of business plans, marketing assistance, feasibility studies, obtaining specialist advice and other services. I have been impressed with the success of the awards and in the next few weeks we should be able to announce the 100th grant made to businesses since the scheme was launched in September.

However, having looked at the criteria and the applications that have been coming in from Kiwis all around New Zealand, Industry NZ has assessed the awards and made changes to make them even more effective.

I can now announce that:

1. Businesses can now be awarded up to $20,000 for any one year, instead of $10,000.

2. The work companies do on environmental standards can now be funded. (For instance, grants could be awarded for firms working towards Bio-Gro or similar certification, or on environmental impact monitoring).

3. Grants can also be made available for, Prototype material costs, International Trade Fair Stand Hire and Production of Artwork and Design.

4. We’ve put a sharper focus on small business with the Awards now covering companies with a turnover of less than or equal to $5 million a year and fewer than 20 full time staff.

5. There is a new category for eco-efficiency projects. (For instance, awards could be granted to cover the development of cleaner waste reduction programmes.

6. We’re backing business and operational excellence by making grants available to help firms do the work needed for international quality certification, benchmarking and systems evaluation.

We are also streamlining the process so that applications can be assessed more quickly.

I am pleased to announce these changes which Industry New Zealand will start to publicise next week to businesses, business advisers and to ordinary kiwis who have ideas that can create jobs.

Another effective programme that needs some adjustment is BIZ.

BIZ and BIZ info are schemes that we inherited from the last Government but they are programmes taking us in the right direction.

I want to congratulate the last Government for setting them up.

The evaluation I am about to outline will show the weaknesses that can be addressed to make the scheme even better.

The research was undertaken by BERL, the National Research Bureau and the New Zealand Centre for Small and Medium Enterprise Research from Massey University.

In a few minutes I will invite Claire Massey of Massey University to introduce the University's new centre which will research small and medium enterprises and assist our understanding of how we can make business in New Zealand stronger.

Small and medium enterprises are a critical element of our economic framework.

42% of all New Zealanders work in small and medium enterprises. 96% of businesses in New Zealand employ 19 or fewer full-time staff.

Small and medium business will become more important.

More New Zealanders see their own business as the best way to provide for their own security and opportunity.

It's a trend that seems likely to continue to increase than to diminish in the coming years.

There are many New Zealanders who harbour the desire to be their own boss. To set up a business and work for themselves.

But often, budding entrepreneurs run into all sorts of problems in getting their ideas off the ground. They may not have all the necessary skills. They may have difficulty marketing their ideas, finding training, establishing a brand or developing business systems.

The BIZ programme was developed as a way of lifting the management capability of small and medium enterprises two years ago.

BIZ has two streams: -
 a general information service available to everyone through call centres and local BIZ shops and
 a management upskilling stream targeted at improving the skills of managers of small and medium businesses.

BIZ has been in operation for two years and 31,000 people from over 7000 small and medium businesses have benefited from it. This evaluation is telling us that BIZ works, although it also identifies some areas for improvement.

The research which ended up as seven volumes covered:
 a survey of 800 small and medium businesses throughout NZ on their awareness of the BIZ programme and its services;
 interviews with 32 of the 44 BIZ providers on the programme;
 interviews with 800 clients of the BIZ programme;
 a mystery shopper survey of the BIZ call centres and BIZ shops;
 a review of the contract management and administration of the programme by MED; and
 a set of in-depth interviews with groups of Maori and Pacific peoples who had used BIZ services.

This is, incidently, the most comprehensive evaluation, carried out on a New Zealand industry assistance programme. The results add significantly to our stock of knowledge about how New Zealand businesses operate and what their needs are. The results are a mine of information - not just to researchers but also to trainers and providers of services. The full results are on the Ministry of Economic Development website.

I don’t propose to go through the seven volumes in detail. The short version is that the evaluation recommended that the programme continue in its current form with improvements and extensions to the scope of it.

The BIZ programme was seen by clients and providers as working well and succeeding in giving small businesses the skills to improve their operation.

Satisfaction levels of people who had been through BIZ were high (70 – 80%). Over half of small businesses surveyed nationally knew about the programme.

Maori and Pacific Peoples who had used BIZ found it particularly helpful but wanted training that covered attitudes to business as well as training that gave them specific business skills.

The management of the programme was seen as competent and responsive although areas for streamlining the administration were identified, too.

Industry New Zealand will be thinking long and hard about the evaluation’s findings as they finalise the shape of the BIZ programme for the new financial year beginning in July. This will be one of the first tasks of the new CEO Neil Mackay, who I am pleased to welcome here today.

I want to close by saying again, that as a nation we have to realise that change is up to us. We need to work together to create the New Zealand that we want.

We need a country that is confident in its own unique culture. We need to see New Zealand perform on the world’s stages. We need to be proud of what we do and the unique, distinctive way we do things.

We need to make sure that our achievers are encouraged and have a chance to grow.

This Labour-Alliance Coalition Government is committed to playing our part in making New Zealand a better place to live, work and do business. We want to create greater security and opportunity. And above all in this new year I want to say that we can make New Zealand the country we want it to be.

Together lets make sure the work and opportunities stay in New Zealand. In doing so we can create and maintain jobs for New Zealanders, rising incomes, and stronger regions.

I will now invite Claire Massey of Massey University's Centre for Small and Medium Enterprise Research to outline the work of the new centre.


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