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Skills, trade and wellbeing key to a resilient economy

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister
MP for Mt Albert

8 February 2019

PĀNUI PĀPĀHO

MEDIA STATEMENT

Skills, trade and wellbeing key to building resilient economy

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says far-reaching reform of vocational training will be a priority for the Government in 2019.

In a major economic speech delivered this morning Jacinda Ardern set out how the Government’s plans to build greater resilience in the economy in the face of global economic headwinds.

Education Minister Chis Hipkins will make public soon options to reform polytechnics and the wider skills training sector to raise the status of vocational training as a career and ensure the sector is more aligned with and responsive to business and national and regional skills shortages.

“The New Zealand economy is doing well. We are delivering stronger growth than many of our trading partners and historically low unemployment is seeing more people in work. The Government books are in solid surplus to protect us against external shocks and New Zealand families are experiencing solid wage growth. Despite this we won’t be complacent about the challenges facing us,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The IMF and OECD have lowered their expectations for global growth as a result of trade wars and the slowing of the Chinese economy. Locally, the persistent skills gap is the number one issue that business raises with the Government. It holds back growth and is a long term weakness in the local economy. My Business Advisory Council has identified work in this space as a priority this year and the Government will be releasing a far-reaching discussion document outlining reform options shortly.

“It is absolutely no fault of the people who work in the vocational education sector, but the currently system has been allowed to drift aimlessly along and has not been serving our young people, our businesses and our communities.

“The Government wants the vocational training system to be the backbone of our productive economy, and of our regions. We want students and parents to proudly choose a career in the trades and for businesses to have confidence that the system is flexible and preparing a workforce for the future of work. That isn’t the case at the moment.

“In 2019 we will be doubling down on trade and broadening our trading base to protect our exporters and economy. Expanding free trade with other countries can provide our economy with a buffer against a downturn in any of our markets. In particular we will seek to conclude a high quality agreement with the EU, as well as establishing the benchmark for a high quality model agreement with the UK.

“This year Government will deliver a world leading wellbeing budget that will see us shift to a wider definition of success for our country, one that incorporates not just the health of our finances but also our natural resources, people, and communities.

“Investing in wellbeing is good for our economy. The wellbeing budget is not only about improving the livelihoods of New Zealanders, it is key to ensuring we are protected from the international headwinds the economy may face. It will ensure that those closest to the margins are protected and that no one is left too far behind,” Jacinda Ardern said.

ends

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