Dissecting the NZ Job Summit output – Group outputs

The Government sponsored Jobs summit was on Friday, and on the beehive website you can read the input documents, breakout descriptions, attendees, power point bullet outputs and  a top 20 laundry list. So lets get to it.

I believe a summit was a good idea – the depression looms, and that also the focus on jobs was right   – as it is in job losses where we feel the biggest impact of a depression. Loss of investment value, scaling down spending or even bankruptcy are all sustainable if you retain employment. Losing your job and being unable to find another can lead to loss of home, increase in crime and other social problems and personal depression. So yes – making sure we all have jobs is good.

Bill English, amongst others, mentioned that 80% of NZ’s GDP was represented amongst the participants, which is a pretty amazing statistic. It’s not so amazing that the people were there, it’s amazing that just 200 people could represent that much of the economy. It says a lot about our lack of diversification, but also about our tiny population. There were a fair smattering of current and ex consultants, (McKinsey was well represented) and a few folk I have met, and even one I have worked for (Joan Withers). I don’t see a lot of the dot com crowd there though, aside from Rod Drury. Maybe that is a liberal versus conservative thing, perhaps it is a generational thing or more likely there were no (aside from Rod) people that could represent the entire industry.

All in all it appears that the day went well, with people across sectors working together in a common goal. Well done.

So here are three quick posts on the day. I can only write about what I read and see on video – being there would give a lot more.

Following some kick of speeches, the attendees broke off into groups and later into sub groups. So let’s first look at  the groups, the aims for each group and what they each proposed for “Big” “Near Term and High Priority” actions.

Group 1: Core workplace & core employment issues (Rob Fyfe, Helen Kelly)

AIM: Identify workplace solutions that are in the long-term best interests of NZ by identifying specific potentially time-dated measures and agreements that are ‘right’ for these conditions.

Big, Near Term Actions

  1. Retain jobs by reducing wage costs while firms’ earnings are down and long term by using this opportunity to upskill workers.
  2. Creation of a seasonal work marketplace that will remove barriers between employers and seasonal workers.

Group 2: Workers – Skills and transition (Stephen Tindall, Joan Withers)

AIM: Concrete actions, not frameworks or taskforces, that utilize existing assets, and capabilities –public, private and NGO – including educational, to assist in re/upskilling labour and minimizing transition time and costs.

Big, Near Term Actions

  1. Keep people in training
  2. Improve matching of supply and demand for training
  3. Flexibility, enablers and incentives in education and training to build skills and create and keep jobs
  4. Improve support to help people cope with redundancy or unemployment

Group 3: Maori Economy, Local and Regional government (Ngatata Love and Lawrence Yule)

AIM: Minimize school-leaver unemployment. Define actions that will allow rapid deployment of Maori, and local and regional government assets into greater productive use.
Increase certainty and speed up regulatory functions to bring forward private sector investment.

Big, Near Term Actions

  1. Integrated Approach to Māori Secondary and Tertiary Education
  2. Integrated delivery of education and training in senior secondary and tertiary sectors, through existing Māori and other education providers.  Involves linking education and training to support the Māori asset base, and emerging sectors; and relaxing funding and regulatory barriers (eg, remove capping of Student Achievement Component funding to enable demand driven response; relaxing movements between secondary and tertiary; enabling use of alternative delivery sites such as marae.
  1. Councils agree to roll out good practice and streamline consenting processes
  2. Councils commit to bringing forward infrastructure development
  3. Mayors commit to broaden the scope of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs

Group 4: Helping firms Survive (John Bongard)

AIM: Implementable, targeted near-term actions that make a meaningful difference to identified industries.

Big, Near Term Actions

  1. Cabinet Directive issued to government agencies/regulators that “now is not the time to be introducing new or extended rules, standards or processes that create additional compliance costs for firms
  2. A fund for initiatives to encourage more tourists to New Zealand, both long and short haul
  3. Actively manage regulatory approval process for complex and/or major projects (over $25M)

Group 5: Business Investment (Wayne Boyd, John Shewan)

AIM: Create a package of policies and options that give business the confidence and rationale to not delay capex, and identify some specific new business opportunities that will see new, productive jobs created. In this area we expect to see some ‘upside risk’ as well as ‘downside mitigation’ from the policies.

Big, Near Term Actions

  1. Reform regulatory approval processes for major infrastructure projects
  2. Target and attract offshore investment and entrepreneurial migrants (e.g. wealthy investors, foreign students)
  3. Improve SME access to working capital

Group 6: Firm Funding (Rob Cameron)

AIM: Honest assessment of the role and goals of the bank sectors, with clear understanding of how the bank sector and government will work together for the best interests of the NZ economy on both firm and consumer sides – during this period. Identify solutions that ensure NZ is ‘core’ to the use of Australian banks’ use of funds, and will see bank funding at acceptable price and volume levels. Improve the set (range, speed, cost) of non-bank funding options for firms.

Big, Near Term Actions

  1. Stimulating the development of New Zealand’s debt markets
  2. Equity growth fund for SMEs
  3. Bank and Government transition fund
  4. Statement of commitment from banks to continue to meet the demand for credit

Quick Feedback

Some groups did well, while others came back with motherhood statements. Frankly this is all a bit too raw to over-analyse and thankfully a this work has been crystallized into a “top 20” – which I shall walk through next.

It’s really important in these sorts of session to take notes/actions well – usually you’d assign a consultant to each one. You can tell a lot from the outputs – some of them have bullets that are clearly inadequate, while others encapsulate tangible actions well. Well written actions are not everything, but they do make sure that everyone in the room has common understanding and agreement.

It is a bit pedantic, but very few of these these are actually written as actions, and none of these are written as actions that clearly describe what needs to be done, by who, by when and why. For example  “Equity growth fund for SME’s” can be interpreted in many different ways. My vision may be very different from yours, and I imagine that even within the room there could have been different ideas. I use this example as it is rectified somewhat by the top 20 list, it a powerful idea and clearly the result of some discussion. However it’s also indicative of how difficult it is to come up with crisp answers in short sessions, and with large numbers of opinionated participants.

I’ll pick on the local Government/Maori actions next, they were the only group requiring two separate Powerpoint packs to present their answers, and the Maori one (for example) addressed the question of unemployment by a long-winded answer which boils down to “training”. Unfortunately it takes a lot more than trained people to create jobs – as anyone in the Philippines will tell you. Fortunately better ideas did emerge in the top 20.

The Workplace Training group one didn’t really answer their question’s call for “Concrete actions” – how can we, for example, “keep people in training” or “Improve matching of supply and demand for training”, and who will be responsible for it?

The 4th Group – helping big firms survive – did very well  – coming up with 3 actions that could reasonably easily be written up with a workplan.

The last two groups are shovelling around big dollars, and we can anticipate some debate on their proposals – and debate is good. None of their proposals come across well in bullets, but the top 20 has more.

So next let’s look at the top 20.

Published by Lance Wiggs


2 replies on “Dissecting the NZ Job Summit output – Group outputs”

  1. it’s amazing that just 200 people could represent that much of the economy.

    In the UK you could pretty much invite the Royal Family and their close cousins and get a similar representation.

    However these tiny groups are not representative. And they are mostly quite out of touch with those whose jobs are most at risk.

    My top ten would (were I to be asked) be along the lines of:

    1. education
    2. education
    3. education
    10. Infrastructure investment.


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