Liam Dann 's Opinion

Business editor of the NZ Herald

Liam Dann: Future generations need more incentives to stay

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Liam Dann, NZ Herald business editor. Photo / NZ Herald
Liam Dann, NZ Herald business editor. Photo / NZ Herald

How will we create the jobs our children will want to do in the future? That's a question that should be central to all the economic choices we make today.

Short term economic thinking puts New Zealand at serious risk of "Pied Piper" syndrome - our best and brightest youngsters will head for the hills, or more likely Australia.

But projecting 20 years or 30 years ahead forces us to think about the next generation and it puts a human focus on questions about how we want our economy to look, what sort of infrastructure we want to build and the kind of lives we want New Zealanders to be living.

This country is heading into another cyclical boom - we're not going broke - but we have structural issues that none of the major political parties have been brave enough to address. We are pricing our children out of the housing market in our biggest cities and wages aren't keeping up. Even as the economy bounces back we see big corporations downsizing and shifting operations offshore.

If we're going to keep the next generation here we need vibrant cities with opportunities for careers in IT, design, finance and marketing. We need companies that will keep the head offices here.

That might not mean protecting all jobs at all costs. We have lost plenty of low skilled manufacturing jobs in the past three decades. We may lose even more if our dollar stays high. The solution is to create more than we lose and to educate our population with the skills we need.

Even though they will continue to underpin our export earnings it won't be enough to rely on agriculture and tourism if we want to really develop our economy.

Communication technology has ended the tyranny of distance. We are connected to the world.

Our young people are uniquely literate in US, British and increasingly Asian culture. They have talent to be world leaders - without leaving home.

The trouble we just aren't that good at thinking long term. Our politicians tend to think in three year terms - six if they're feeling optimistic.

Many of our biggest companies are struggling to look beyond the next annual result.
It is easy to lay the blame at the feet of company bosses or politicians but it is investors and voters that drive this culture. In other words: us.

We deal with Asian competitors who seldom do anything without a long term strategy. In China 30 year plans are standard thinking. It helps to have a single party central government of course. But we are a very small nation and little bit of bipartisan consensus would go a long way.

With clear thinking and big vision we need to find a few big goals to agree upon - then we need to get on with it.

- NZ Herald

Liam Dann

Business editor of the NZ Herald

Liam Dann is the Business editor of the New Zealand Herald, overseeing all our business content in print and online. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy.

Read more by Liam Dann

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