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NZ in 2040 - Callaghan Innovation's Challenge

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 05 February 2019, 9:55 am

The eve of Waitangi Day is as good a time as any to ponder what the country will be like in 20 years' time - or more to the point, what we want it to be like. Callaghan Innovation sought the views of more than 100 policy makers, academics, business people, and youth representatives for its Innovation Challenge in 2018, and published their ideas in a report released last week.

The Innovation Challenge was framed in the context of eight mega trends, which were identified as:

1. Changing world order: the shift in geo-political power

2. Changing climate

3. Future of work: new ways of working (or not)

4. Rise of ethical/empowered consumer

5. Changing demographics

6. Changing infrastructure

7. The healthcare revolution

8. The future of business

Participants' future view of the nation was a little negative. New Zealand is "in danger of become merely a retirement location", our green image is more of an idea than a reality, our businesses will be owned by global corporation, and when the oil shortages start to bite we will become even more isolated because transport to and from this country will be limited.

The opportunities for a better future include encouraging SMEs to think less about exit plans and more about building international businesses, becoming a "gateway of understanding" between America and Asia, and aiming to be the "first country to achieve 100% renewable energy generation."

Participants also acknowledged that the country needs to "embrace and capitalise on our Māori heritage". It is an under-utilised asset, and among the opportunities are that "New Zealand embodies the principles of kaitiakitanga in all matters relating to the use of our natural resources, and this informs our legislation and the priorities of our innovation ecosystem."

Many of the ideas expressed around the application and importance of data, how to encourage research and development, and the need for digital technology training have been well-canvassed in other forums. And there is the familiar lament that "New Zealand has a dangerously high proportion of its economy ground in primary production and tourism".

The education system gets a bit of a bashing, with comments that it is "seen as an inflexible dinosaur that does not support a fully inclusive and future-quipped workplace", and that "teachers are not upskilling with new technologies or current ways of working, thinking and innovating."

I'd beg to differ on these points, having been involved in Tahi Rua Toru Tech  last year, and having spent time with some outstanding teachers and education leaders who are fully on board with preparing their students for the 21st century workplace. The introduction of Digital Technologies & Hangarau Matihiko curriculum, which is supported by the IT industry, is the first substantial change to the curriculum in a decade and is being taught at all levels in schools and kura.

But, as Callaghan Innovation CEO Vic Crone points in her introduction, the report is a summary of what participants said, and is designed to create further discussion. You can check out the full report, and provide submissions, here.


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Gary Mersham 08 February 2019, 5:16 pm

I agree with you Sarah about positive change in the education system at primary and secondary school level, but I don't believe that Universities and Polytechs have transformed - they are still largely offering 'degrees' that are not aligned with the changes set out in the Callaghan report.

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