Call for collaboration over growth

By Lindy Laird

A group set up to help plan Northland's economic development says improved pre-work education, work skills and youth employment are keys to regional growth.

That conclusion by Northland Economic Action Group (NEAG) should come as no surprise, but at the group's April meeting members stressed the need for a cross-sector approach in scoping and preparing for the desired growth.

NorthTec chief executive Paul Binney said a collaborative approach was needed to match skills training to job projections.

He said each sector within the NEAG frame should try to identify its future growth, where the jobs would be located and what skills were needed to prepare that workforce.

Tertiary and other education providers needed to match the industries' projections but had often been unable to respond quickly to change, Mr Binney said.

NorthTec and other tertiary providers had two roles in the region's growth - meeting industry training needs as well as providing core courses and qualifications, and as large employers, he said.

Mr Binney called for more pre-employment mentoring, comparing the effort that went into training youth for sport with that put into preparing them to move into work.

NEAG has referred that point to Northland Inc to consider how it might be taken up.

"This is not a talk fest group. We want to see some action come from some of the proposals that are being brought forward by the industry sectors to support Northland growth in terms of jobs, GDP and household income," chairman Shane Lloydd said.

"We have some very aspirational targets over the next 10 years."

Last week's meeting also considered the effects of regional roading and of climate change on jobs and economic development.

Agricultural and Rural Support Trust representative Julie Jonkers told the meeting events like the recent drought was forecast to have a $500 million effect on GDP - "a sizeable setback".

Ms Jonkers said a cross-sector approach was also needed to help mitigate the effects of climate change on the region's economy.

The Government's proposed population-based road funding regime was also discussed.

Comprising 14 representatives from a range of industries and organisations, NEAG was set up last year as a think-tank to jolt the region's economy.

- Northern Advocate

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