Skills, trade and wellbeing are key to building a resilient economy, said Jacinda Ardern, in a major economic speech delivered this morning.
The Prime Minister said New Zealand’s economy is doing well but the Government won’t be complacent about the challenges they face.
“We are delivering stronger growth than many of our trading partners and historically low unemployment is seeing more people in work... ... and New Zealand families are experiencing solid wage growth," she said.
Ms Ardern says on the key economic measures the Government is delivering, but there is a shift in the mood globally as the economic growth is beginning to slow.
“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.”
Ms Ardern says a far-reaching reform of vocational training is one of the main priorities for the Government in 2019.
“It is absolutely no fault of the people who work in the vocational education sector, but currently the system has been allowed to drift aimlessly along and has not been serving our young people, our businesses and our communities.
“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.”
Education Minister Chis Hipkins will make public soon how the Government will 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.
She says for 2019 trading and broadening the trading base is key in protecting exporters and the 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.”