Among other things the Financial Services Annex of Secret Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) published this week by Wikileaks includes clauses which mean banks and other finance companies can quickly import overseas IT workers. Continue reading
The Sydney Morning Herald reports IBM Australia could cut as many as 1500 staff. Many of the jobs will go offshore to Asia and New Zealand.
IBM refuses to confirm or deny the report.
At first sight this could be a good thing. After all we get good, well-paid jobs with a multinational employer. If you want a job with IBM, I hope you’re lucky.
It isn’t all positive.
First, Australia and New Zealand are effectively a single market for tech jobs. Many senior IBM people in the two countries have responsibilities that stretch from Invercargill to Darwin or further. With some of those jobs going to Asia the total pool of work for Australians and New Zealanders will be smaller.
Second, New Zealanders will be among the 1500 getting laid off in Australia. Some may be your friends or relatives.
Third, there’s a worrying implication in the SMH story. IBRS analyst Alan Hansell says he:
wouldn’t be surprised if New Zealand ended up benefiting the most from the cuts. This was because of the country’s cheaper real estate, lower mandatory superannuation for employees and lower labour rates.
Lower superannuation and lower labour rates are not the kind of competitive advantages most countries aspire to.
According to a report from Deloitte Access Economics in Australia, it’s as simple as having flexible technology policies.
That means letting staff work from home some of the time, allowing them to bring their own devices to the office and to use social media. They also like collaborative tools. Get these things right, says Deloitte, and there’s much less chance your best employees will head off in search of greener pastures.
Deloitte uses financial numbers to show flexible technology policies add up to huge savings, but the real benefit is in being able to keep the most productive workers.
Three days ago I watched a series of lorries barrel through Gisborne carrying unprocessed logs to the port where they were loaded on to a ship.
That wood is heading overseas. Workers in another country will add value.
New Zealand unlocked just a small part of the wealth tied up in those logs.
We ate in The Works, a restaurant housed in an old Gisborne port building. There chefs took locally produced raw materials like fish, meat and vegetables then added value by turning them into $30 plates of food. We sipped Gisborne Chardonnay – a few cents worth of grapes turned into $40 bottles of wine.
At the time I thought how the economy would be boosted if New Zealand could move more of its economy higher up the value chain.
That’s what the Callaghan Institute could do. If the project succeeds, it won’t just move food, agriculture and wood processing up the value chain, it will help our industries capture the crowning heights. It’ll make us richer as a nation.
There’s a danger it could just become another top-heavy bureaucracy acting to widen the gap between innovators and the market. What we don’t need it more paperwork or more red tape. We certainly don’t need officials meddling at the sharp end of the economy.
Let’s hope CI can broker partnerships between innovators and industry. I’d like to see the new organisation get a few early runs on the board to prove its worth.