Even in what we hope is a post-Covid lock down world, we know that businesses face ongoing challenges. And while there are a couple of ropes up the cliff to help you get back on top, we also know there is a lot coming that is not going to make that easy.
Many of you reliant on trade with Australia would have been relieved to see the trans-Tasman and the Pacific Islands bubbles opening, not just for your staff personally and professionally but your customers too.
Unfortunately, this does not address the skilled migrant worker issue that the Bay of Plenty experiences, and skills shortages remain a significant problem for businesses big and small.
While immigration policy is developing, we think it is high time for a much bigger piece of work – a population strategy. It is critical to many parts of the economy and deciding how big we want our country to be. Where our population is concentrated drives infrastructure, housing and health policy. That is what will prompt deeper thought about what skills we want in our population and determine our skills mix for migrants and consequently our education system.
“While immigration policy is developing, we think it is high time for a much bigger piece of work – a population strategy.”
Training, education, skills, and immigration are a critical policy mix as we have a rapidly ageing workforce (in the top three ageing populations in the world), which with our declining birth rate means we are well below what is required to replenish our working population.
Along with the big picture issues like this, there are a huge number of other policy and legislative changes facing businesses now and in the coming year.
Coupled with this, the minimum wage rise to $20 an hour in April 2021 is the third in a series of increases that have seen the minimum wage rise more than 25 per cent in the past three years. But is raising wages what drives the productivity which enables businesses in the Bay of Plenty to grow?
It is also only one piece of business-focused legislation or policy that is on the Government’s agenda, and that is it in a nutshell really. It is the cumulative effect of this and the other policy and legislative changes from five extra days sick leave to Fair Pay Agreements.
While along with the rest of the BusinessNZ Network we are talking to Government about these issues regularly, providing your feedback and helping shape their response, businesses simply need a bit of a breather.
You have shown such resilience, but everyone needs a helping hand and at a practical level we are here to support you with expert on-tap advice, advocacy, events, business services and learning, so that together we can help you succeed. The EMA has been doing just that for 135 years and are here to support you.
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