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Wellington’s economy lies in green technology innovations

Wellington’s economy lies in green technology innovations

Wellington is notorious for being over reliant on government sector jobs compared to other regions and the city needs to diversify its portfolio.
There has been a couple of call centre jobs being announced recently. While this is good news in terms of providing much required jobs for some people in the city, this alone is not enough.

Whereas call centre staff do provide fantastic service, in many cases even go out of their way to serve customers, they are by nature, lower skilled jobs and don’t provide as much opportunities for growth. Besides, the call centres are also very cost competitive. It does not take long for a call centre to move to a cheaper location, for the same reason they have come to Wellington right now. It is a short term solution to long term requirements.

What Wellington needs to build is hi-technology jobs. Jobs that will provide opportunities for people to up-skill themselves and hence longer term stability for the city and better earning capacity. The recent announcement by cloud computing companies to expanding their presence in Wellington is one such positive development. The city needs to build on such technology opportunities.
The other area that Wellington needs to explore is in the area of value adding manufacturing jobs. The region has very few manufacturing industries. Such industries need not be in the form of energy dense factories that belch out tonnes of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. We can instead look at green technology, the new growth area. Like it or not, the world is grabbing opportunities in this area. Green technology worldwide is estimated to be in trillions of dollars. It is expected to be around 4 trillion euros in Europe by 2020. China, the world’s fastest growing economy, is itself estimated to have a market potential to the tune of 500 billion to a trillion dollars. It will be nuts for Wellington to ignore this area.

For this reason, Wellington should be investing in research and development in green technology products. Products that can be patented and then manufactured in or around Wellington will create several high technology jobs. Not all products need be high cost. Again Wellingtonians can come up with cost effective solutions so, manufacturing need not be outsourced to make use of cheap labour overseas.

Wellington has the benefit of Victoria University that has been named the best when it comes to research (http://www.victoria.ac.nz/home/research). It is also considered to be the most liveable city thanks to its walkability and public transport connections. With some tender loving care to make it even more liveable like slower urban road speeds and safer cycling facilities, these are the perfect conditions to attract the “creative class”. All that needs to be done to is to bring these factors together to work in co-ordination with each other.

The current council had proposed the vision of a “Smart Green Capital” in 2009. However, some in the council who do not believe in climate change wanted the word green to be removed and leave it as just “Smart Capital”. Green technology is not entirely connected to climate change but an acceptance and understanding of climate change is helpful in developing this technology. So this is an opportunity for them to rethink and put back the green in the vision at least for the sake of commerce. It is also an opportunity for the city to send more councillors who believe in climate change who will push for and let Wellingtonians reap the benefits of green technology.

Sridhar Ekambaram
Councillor candidate for Wellington City Council

ends

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