Page 59 - Print21 July-Aug 2018 Magazine
P. 59

Association news News updates from the printing industry
Mixed messages – a snapshot of the New Zealand economy
Starting out with the good news – the
New Zealand economy continues to perform fairly well with annual
growth in the 2-3% range.
The government’s May budget confirmed there is an ongoing surplus and that there are solid signs of growth across many sectors. The Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) and its sister survey, the Performance of Services Index (PSI), both continue to show solid expansion, with results at 54.5 and 57.3 respectively.
In addition, New Zealand continues to lead the way
with entry into Free Trade Agreements – most recently the CPTTP (TransPacific) – and we are first off the block for negotiations with the EU. These FTAs significantly improve
our access to a wider range of markets and make it easier for New Zealand businesses to export. Good news for a country that relies heavily on exporting.
So then why did
New Zealand’s latest Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion report the lowest level of business confidence in seven years? The July 2018 survey showed 19% of businesses
“It will always be more effective to train your staff with the skills you require than to try and ‘buy’ those skills through higher wages.”
believe business conditions will deteriorate in the next 12 months, nearly doubling the 10% in the previous survey. This seems to be a complete contradiction to how the economy is performing and the
Ruth Cobb
Thirty years after ‘Rogernomics’ brought New Zealand into the world economy – at great social cost and followed by the unforgettable ‘Ruthenasia’ – PrintNZ’s CEO Ruth Cobb (no connection) looks at the satisfactory current state of the economy, but questions why business confidence is slipping.
general healthy outlook. Why aren’t businesses confident that we are going to continue to perform well? Most of this comes down to perceived uncertainty stemming from the change of government and the lack of action in making any positive changes for business
So, what’s up, bruvs?
One of the side effects of having a coalition government is that it is not easy to make rapid change. Each of the parties has their
own agenda so there needs to
be compromise and agreement before anything can happen.
As a result, we have a record number of “working parties”, upwards of 80, looking at what needs to change and how it can be achieved, but in the meantime very little is happening and what is happening is bad for business. The proposed changes to employment legislation that are sitting before select committee will do nothing to help business at all – and in fact will potentially see a step-back to an industrial relations landscape we haven’t seen in 30 years.
A bright light in the survey was that more firms thought their own business was going
to do OK, it was just everyone else’s that were going to have problems – a trend we also see in the PrintNZ survey where 79% of businesses think their own business is going to grow but only 30% think the industry is going to grow. So, we need
to count on that individual confidence to ensure we keep moving forward.
Consumer confidence has been high (although that is starting to decline) on the back of strong employment growth and low levels of unemployment, although this creates issues for businesses
as skill shortages become pronounced and it becomes more difficult to replace
staff that leave. Changes to immigration policy make it more difficult to bring in staff from overseas, particularly in the main centres, so we need to make sure that we continue to train and develop staff to retain them in the business.
Data obtained from NZ Statistics shows that the printing industry needs 600 new employees every year to replace those we lose through natural attrition/retirement, so training plays a more important role than ever.
It will always be more effective to train your staff with the skills you require than to try and ‘buy’ those skills through higher wages.
Oldies could provide answers
We have an ageing population heading our way and the deepening skills shortage means a perfect storm is brewing on how New Zealand manages
its workforce, with particular attention needing to be paid to older workers. They may well
be the key to ensuring that we have enough workers to sustain the future of our industry and rather than thinking about them winding down to retirement
we need to think about how
we can ensure they continue to be valuable team members. In order to do that, we must ensure lifelong learning remains a top- of-mind consideration.
It’s up to business to make the most of the opportunities the economy presents and if anything comes through from Government initiatives that will be a bonus. 21
Ruth Cobb can be contacted at PrintNZ on E: ruth.cobb@printnz.
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