MEActive - August 2017

30 August 2017
New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association


MEActive - August 2017

Welcome to the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association's monthly e-news, giving a series of updates on what we have been working on to make things better for manufacturers and exporters.

    • CEO Comment
    • NZMEA Events
    • Media Releases - Circulated to all media by the NZMEA.
    • Media Coverage - Where we have been reported over the past month.
    • NZ Manufacturer Magazine
    • Figure New Zealand Graph

CEO COMMENT:  Policy Focus – Education, Training and Skills Development, and Support for Business Innovation

With a month to go until the general election, party campaigns have officially been launched and we are getting a better picture of the policy positions being put on the table.  Today we want to focus on two key policy areas of concern for all manufacturers: education and innovation policy. 

A well-functioning education system that can continually provide new skills and talent, and set up our youth for an ever-changing work environment is critical for our economy’s future success. And we need to look at policies right across the education sector from pre-school to tertiary education to achieve that.

Here is a brief outline of what each major party is proposing in the area of education, more details for each party's policy is linked at their name:

National: National will continue their $359m initiative to ‘improve teaching quality and school leadership’. They will also continue their policies of investing in building new schools and class rooms, providing access to better broadband and investing a total of $10.8b a year into early childhood, primary and secondary school education.

Labour:  Investing an additional $4b in funding over four years to ‘deliver a modern education system’, including $1.8b towards additional teachers and professional development and learning resources.  They plan the progressive introduction of 3 years of free post-school education. This will cover universities, polytechs and on-the-job training.

Labour also plan to incentivise employers to take on unemployed young people as apprentices though a wage subsidy equivalent to the unemployment benefit. They also plan to introduce a ‘School Leavers’ toolkit’, that aims to give school leavers skills such as: obtaining a drivers licence, having key workplace competences and financial literacy – this is combined with their plan to ensure students have better career advice.  

NZ First:  NZ First plan to repeal the bill which allows charter schools and abolish national standards in their current form at primary level, working with the sector to replace these. They have an aim of lifting apprenticeship completion rates to 80%, combined with a policy of paying the job seekers benefit to approved employers who take on apprentices who gain qualifications. 

On a tertiary level, NZ First plan to ‘introduce sufficient funding so that the tertiary education sector can deliver on its goals, end its dependence on international students, promote collaboration and seamless transition between provincial and urban education institutions’.  They also plan to increase proportion of tertiary tuition subsides for specific courses, such as in science and technology, and introduce more scholarships, particularly at post-graduate level, to ‘ensure we keep our best students and provide for research and development expertise’.

They would also introduce a universal living allowance for tertiary students, which is not means-tested according to parents’ income.  The policy is also based on a ‘change of mind-set from a financial debt to a skill debt’.  This means the cost of tertiary education reduced per student on a year-by-year basis for each year they work in New Zealand following study.  If a student leaves the country and does not come back to pay off their ‘skill debt’ with further work in New Zealand, they would be charged the remaining debt. 

Greens: The Green party support reviewing national standards. They also support teaching te reo Maori in schools, and plan to engage with parents, teachers, unions, hapu and iwi to work out a plan to have kids learning te reo from primary school onwards. 

In review of the above, it is worth noting that only Labour and NZ First have specific policies for the tertiary sector, and even then these don’t specifically address the growing skills shortages in the productive parts of our economy in a targeted manner.

Innovation is another core part of the future success of manufacturing, be it through new products or smarter and more efficient processes that allow us to compete in global markets.  New Zealand currently has low rates of R&D spending, both in business and Government terms, compared to the OECD and most of our competitors. 

Here is a brief outline of what each major party is proposing in the area of innovation support:

National: National plan to continue R&D funding as currently implemented through Callaghan Innovation.  In their most recent budget, the allocated an additional $74.6m for growth grants to meet growing demand, however, project grants are set to stay at the same current value. 

Labour: Labour plan to reintroduce R&D tax credits to incentivise and support business R&D spending. These are costed at $850m over four years.

NZ First: NZ First plan to ‘provide tax incentives for businesses to engage in research and development’, assist New Zealand companies in developing new technology and facilitate technology transfer and provide and encourage venture capital sources.

Greens: The Green party supports a minister for manufacturing, but does not currently have any policies specifically on supporting innovation investment in the productive industries. 

The NZMEA has put out a list of policies that we want all parties to put forward in the 2017 election – you can find the full list here.  

The events page on our website has more information on upcoming events. Click here to view our upcoming events or see below.

Immigration Round-Table Workshop - Christchurch - Monday 11 September
The purpose of this workshop will be to exchange insights and experiences with other manufacturers who have been dealing with these issues.  The workshop will be run as a round-table encouraging peer-to-peer learning.  We have two experts on hand to facilitate and offer advice as requested.  The session includes pizza and drinks.  Click here for more information or to register.

Invitation to the September AGM and Leaders' Network - Christchurch - Wednesday 20 September
Members are invited to attend the NZMEA's 138th AGM in Christchurch.  The AGM will be followed by our monthly Leaders' Network with guest speaker Vic Crone, CEO of Callaghan Innovation.  Click here for more information or to register.

Media releases submitted by the NZMEA during July. Click here to read the latest media releases.

Date Title
13 July Skilled Staff constraint highest since 2008
27 July Review of changes to immigration policy
27 July Immigration policy adjustments helpful for manufacturers

Where the NZMEA have been reported over the past month.

Date Media Organisation Title
01 July The Southland Times Cyber attack hits cargo handling.  Newspaper
01 July Manawatu Standard Cyber attack hits cargo handling.  Newspaper
01 July Taranaki Daily News Cyber attack hits cargo handling.  Newspaper
01 July The Timaru Herald Cyber attack hits cargo handling.  Newspaper
01 July Nelson Mail Cyber attack hits cargo handling.  Newspaper
05 July Exporter Today Get off the grass.  Internet
07 July DEMM Get off the grass.  Internet
09 July Technology a 'massive opportunity' to save lives in every work place.  Internet
09 July Sunday Star-Times Technology a staff lifesaving opportunity.  Newspaper
13 July Skilled staff constraint highest since 2008 say NZMEA.  Internet
13 July NZMEA Survey:  Skilled staff constraint highest since 2008. Internet
13 July Skilled staff constraint highest since 2008.  Internet
20 July NZ Manufacturer Prime Minister talks manufacturing to the NZMEA in Auckland.  Magazine
24 July Review of Changes to Immigration Policy Welcome.  Internet
24 July NZ Herald Business lobby supports govt backdown on immigration.  Internet
24 July Review of Changes to Immigration Policy Welcome.  Internet
24 July Business lobby supports govt backdown on immigration.  Internet
24 July Review of changes to immigration policy welcomed by NZMEA.  Internet
25 July The consequences of immigration restrictions.  Internet
25 July NZ Herald Industry body backs immigration backtrack by govt.  Newspaper
25 July NZ Herald Softening of rules labelled a backflip.  Newspaper
27 July Immigration Policy Adjustments Helpful for Manufacturers.  Internet
27 July Immigration Policy Adjustments Helpful for Manufacturers.  Internet
27 July Immigration policy adjustments 'helpful for manufacturers'.  Internet

Click here to read the latest edition of NZ Manufacturer Magazine online for free.


Despite New Zealand’s unemployment rate of 4.8%, the number of youths who are not in employment, education or training is relatively high. This includes those aged 15 – 24 years, and the graph shows these rates across regions of New Zealand.  Clearly, there is room for our education system and economy to improve outcomes for this group, helping them to gain relevant skills that can provide them with quality jobs. 

For more graphs related to manufacturing and exporting, as well a large collection of data on New Zealand presented in a simple visual way, visit