A growth and innovation report card

The gist of the Government’s latest report card on New Zealand’s growth and innovation progress is “could do better”.
In an attempt to measure where the country has been, where it wants to go and how fast it’s getting there, the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) has come up with 17 key indicators to track progress. These also provide snapshot of where we sit in the global scene.
A quick summary is: labour productivity low but trending upward; GDP per head low and static; educational attainment medium and static; R&D per sector low but rising; openness (or global connectedness) medium but rising.
All is detailed in couple of reports released by the MED last month: the Growth and Innovation Framework (GIF) Progress Report 2003 and Benchmark Indicators Report 2003.
It is, says Minister of Economic Development Jim Anderton, the first time any New Zealand government has set in place key indicators that can be used to both measure current economic health and the progress being made “in supporting industries and businesses to create jobs”.
The indicators are grouped under five headings – productivity, material standard of living, talent and skills, innovation and global connectedness.
They measure:
* changes in the supply of talent and skills – eg, educational attainment, workforce upskilling, inflow of skilled people;
* changes in investment – eg, foreign direct investment, plant and equipment investment;
* innovation, entrepreneurship and technological change – which includes breakdown of R&D investment by sector and type, intangible investment as percentage of GDP, organisational innovation, and use of high-end technology;
* global connectedness – eg, trade openness, level of technology and knowledge exports, and how our cities rate.
Other measures forming part of the broader picture (but not included in the official indicators) include macroeconomic stability, regulatory transparency, business entry costs and infrastructure.
There are also indicators for each sector on which government development efforts are currently focused – biotechnology, information/communication technology, and the creative industries.
When looked at together, the indicators “provide comprehensive picture of the factors influencing growth and innovation in New Zealand”, the report explains.
However, it’ll take five to eight years before they allow unambiguous conclusions to be made as to whether we’re doing better or not.
Because the benchmarks are based mostly on older (2001) statistics, they paint picture of an economy that “needs to improve its performance”, says Anderton. The progress report is more of Government skite card – outlining the development initiatives it has so far put in place.
Both reports are available from the MED on www.med.govt.nz.

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