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Knowledge Economy Report Welcomed

A report into New Zealand's status as a Knowledge Economy has been welcomed by Information Technology Minister Maurice Williamson today.

Provided by his Information Technology Advisory Group (ITAG) in association with the Information Technology Association of New Zealand (ITANZ), the report reflects the discussions Mr Williamson has had with ITAG over the last 18 months.

"I'm pleased it has come out soon after our Bright Future announcements which dealt with a number of issues the report raised. I support the sense of urgency the report contains as it's an excellent reinforcement of the steps the Government is already taking."

Mr Williamson said the Government was currently working on how to attract more science and technology graduates, attracting skilled migrants and strengthening research and development (R&D).

"I was encouraged by the recent release of the New Zealand Research and Experimental Development Statistics 1997/98 which showed that business R&D had increased by 30 percent over two years. It also showed that New Zealand had one of the highest R&D growth rates in the OECD.

The Knowledge Economy Report highlighted a need to improve the information and communication technology (ICT) of both teachers and students and have this as a bursary subject to encourage more students to take up science and technology at tertiary level.

"This point is well placed and one I'm progressing with my colleague, the Minister of Education."

Mr Williamson said students were not the only ones who should be using the Knowledge Economy report to help them decide on what areas to train in.

"Businesses and workers who are interested in improving their profitability and employability need to be looking at how IT is affecting their jobs, industries and investment in training and upskilling."

"The Knowledge Economy also provides excellent opportunities for Maori to overcome current social and economic disadvantage, because IT will increase the range and number of jobs in both cities and less populated areas."

Mr Williamson said the Knowledge Economy Report was an excellent reinforcement of steps the Government had already taken and a forceful reminder not to let up on the speed and focus of repositioning New Zealand.

ENDS

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