Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The value of knowledge economies

Rod Oram, of the Sunday Star Times, recently wrote this piece.

In it, he basically lays out why a knowledge-based (or at least heavily contributed to-) economy is something New Zealand should be striving for.

And I have to say I agree: this idea that one must make things in order to be a wealthy economy is, well, extremely outdated - certainly, it seems to have landed NZ in a bit of a pickle economically. I remember being told years ago, while studying business, that manufacturing and farming-based economies would contribute an ever-decreasing amount of wealth to the economy due to, well, a number of reasons really, including the ever downward pressure on commodity prices, manual labour, and, frankly, China.

Or, think of it using the internet vs print as a paradigm: the people who generate content (goods) are increasingly squeezed, while the people who can add value to the content, like coders and tech companies (services) find themselves doing increasingly well.

So yes, a knowledge economy it is! And it's something other countries, including India and Singapore, cottoned on to some time ago.

The only thing is: how to get one (properly) going here? Of course, we need skilled people - not that they necessarily have to have degrees, mind you. But highly skilled, yes. And, and this is simply a perhaps (and one written from a non-kiwi point of view), perhaps we need more people? I know that the kiwi government makes it pretty difficult for people to come live here and while I can understand that attitude for minimally skilled people, I tihnk that they may want to consider loosening things up for young/older highly skilled people who can both contribute to the market, but also help increase the market size itself (a significant issue here).

And the industries themselves? Well, they're likely to be in tech, design and science, predominantly (and, of course, in the intersections between the aforementioned) - these industries really do foster knowledge economies, and government investment in them is very important. Let's hope the government realises that.