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Stephen Jennings Sounds the Alarm for New Zealand’s Future From Ryan Wilson – Founder & CEO I was lucky enough to attend a speech by Stephen Jennings on Thursday night in which he paints a very clear picture about the problems facing the ‘western world’ and New Zealand, particularly in our education and housing sectors. There was a lot of information to digest but in an effort to provide a short highlights reel, here are what I think were the most important takeouts for Generator members and New Zealanders;
  • We are in a period of rapid economic convergence as the emerging markets, through the growth of a competitive labour force and growing middle class, continue to put pressure on stagnating western economies. 60% of global GDP now comes from the emerging markets of India and sub-Saharan Africa. This trend is set to continue…
  • The [Western] establishment and global elite [top 1%] have not provided any sort of framework to address these issues and as a result western’ political, social and economic systems are under stress as evidenced by the social discourse we are seeing in the United Kingdom and the USA;
  • We [New Zealand] need to be more entrepreneurial in our approach to new markets and our biggest companies like Fonterra need to be a lot more innovative in how they operate. Using this example he cites the need for smaller more competitive players in the sector to improve performance and create greater accountability particularly when entering new markets.
Stephen delivered a scathing view of our education system and the New Zealand housing crisis:
  • Our education system is declining rapidly when measured against international standards. “We have one of the most unfair education systems in the Western World”.
  • Our housing crisis, particularly in Auckland is actually quite simple to fix … Change the regulatory environment to allow for greater density and greater height. He goes onto to say that the complexity of our regulatory framework is also playing a part in stifling regional growth in New Zealand.
  • Perhaps most worryingly for us is the statistic that shows our GDP has slipped from being a top 5 nation to one slipping through the 20’s. To quote a friend of mine, Duncan Stewart, “we have spent so long selling insurance to each other that we have forgotten how to competitively make anything anymore”.
If this all sounds a bit ‘highbrow’, Jennings used a sporting analogy to challenge his audience to think about New Zealand’s success measures differently. He asked:
  • Do we think it would be acceptable for our international sports teams to aim to be 20th in the world or worse? [our global Productivity ranking]
  • Do we think our athletes should have coaches and training facilities that are worse than the average for their international competitors? [our education system and teachers pay structures]
  • Do we think our sports teams will be winners on the international stage if they have very limited international competition?” [our insular and monopolistic approach to entering new markets, we need to be more entrepreneurial and have more accountability in our approach to new markets]
To all these questions, the answer would be ‘of course not, that would be absurd,’
so why should our economy and our businesses be any different? For the full programme, Click here – thanks to Q&A on TVNZ. – Ryan Wilson Founder & CEO
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