Harnessing Globalisation

As the election approaches, it serves as a timely reminder that New Zealand, like many countries, relies on export revenue to sustain its economy and needs to trade its way out of the significant COVID-19 government debt.

Traditionally, New Zealand's economic survival has hinged on exports, but post-COVID-19, there are significant differences. The country competes for workers of all skill levels in the international job market. Unfortunately, many of our skilled workers are leaving for better opportunities overseas, with Australia being a common destination. Simultaneously, attracting skilled workers from abroad has become increasingly challenging. This labour shortage will hinder New Zealand's economic revival if not addressed effectively.

To encourage workers to stay in or move to New Zealand, we must develop and promote the advantages of living and working here. This requires a broader approach that goes beyond just employer-employee relations. We may not offer salaries and conditions on par with other countries, and affordable accommodation remains a challenge. Additionally, our current immigration system may discourage workers from coming to New Zealand with their families.

However, if we look at the bigger picture, New Zealand possesses several inherent advantages. Our geographic location lends us resilience in the face of climate change compared to many other nations. Yet, we must invest in robust infrastructure to effectively mitigate climate impacts.

Technology also plays a crucial role in our economic growth. New Zealand has been a leader in innovation, particularly in the primary sector. However, this sector requires more financial and other support. Embracing technology is essential to meet the demand for labour and propel economic growth.

A significant advantage lies in our labour market if we nurture it and implement elementary changes. This entails recognising the changing demographics of our workforce and incorporating technology in the workplace. We must also embrace the growing diversity within our local workforce and with our migrants.

As a nation with predominantly small to medium-sized businesses, we have the agility to pivot and create the flexibility needed to attract and retain workers. By understanding and fulfilling the desires of our workforce, we can foster economic growth and prosperity.

An actionable pathway toward achieving these goals is presented by New Zealand Ethical Employers (NZEE) at www.nzee.nz. NZEE offers education, support, systems, and practical resources to create a framework that supports businesses operating ethically and continually improving their employment conditions. The ultimate goal is to enable the best possible employers, thereby attracting the workforce they need. NZEE prioritises people and is dedicated to helping employers navigate the ever-changing world of work, while also advocating on behalf of their members with key government stakeholders.

In conclusion, as New Zealand looks toward the future and seeks economic revival, it must capitalise on its inherent advantages, address labour market challenges, embrace technology and innovation, and foster a diverse and inclusive workforce. By doing so, we can ensure a prosperous future for our country and its people.


Mike Chapman, Chair NZ Ethical Employers (NZEE)