Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are we losing our best graduates to Australia because we are just 'too small?'

There is no doubt that our education system is turning out top graduates. There is also a worrying tend that we are losing many of our best graduates to overseas employers, particularly Australia. Why is this happening and what can we do to stop the flow?
IN the past when New Zealand manufacturing was broader and we produced a wide range of products, New Zealand’s young people believed that they could find employment here. Our graduates completed their education on the understanding that they would develop their careers in New Zealand, perhaps[s after they had embarked on their big OE. (Overseas experience).
This has all changed. The report in the New Zealand herald this morning that a large number of our very best graduates will be enticed to Australia is most disturbing. The opportunities are there for the taking and taking is what the Aussies are doing. Is New Zealand just too small now on the global employment market? Our 4.4 million people do not provide a platform whereby these young people can find employment once they have completed their degrees. On the other hand Australia presents opportunities that have long since gone offshore from New Zealand.   
The worry is that this process may accelerate unless we as a nation make some very important changes. It always has and will continue to be so that New Zealand will find it difficult to compete in many of the area that Australia excels. One of the reasons for that is the larger market, both within Australia and its nearby neighbours in South East Asia. It is not only the so-called ‘mining boom’ that fuels these opportunities, but also the fact that the Australian Government is more supportive of Aussie enterprises.
At a time when we need Government investment in research and development, we actually cut such support. The tendency for our present government to swing a fairly heavy fiscal hammer will only widen the gap between NZ and Australia. This is a pity, because with strong support, there is no doubt that our industries and other sectors of the NZ economy have huge potential. Saving money now is going to do little to ‘grow’ our prospects for the future. It is this future that young skilled New Zealanders are shifting their focus to Australia, because we have not provided the challenges and opportunities our neighbours have across the ditch.
The sad fact is that most of our departing graduates do so with heavy hearts. If the playing field was more even, they would stay here. We need to hear policies form aspiring ‘Governments’ that will reverse this flow. I am all ‘ears’    www.authorneilcoleman.com