Growing our region’s capability

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Capability. Competence. Skill. Talent. All essential ingredients for maintaining a robust and thriving economy. But how do we make sure Waikato has the capability it needs to prosper? That’s where Te Waka is playing its part.

Growing the capability of our region is a priority for me and my team. In sharpening our aim on the priorities that more than 250 of the region’s business, iwi and community leaders believe is essential for Waikato to thrive, it ranks as one of three focus areas. And we’ve been making good progress.

Let’s look at the dollars and cents. Over the last six months, Te Waka has helped Waikato businesses secure $1.5 million in research and development funding from Callaghan Innovation.

We have also distributed $256,000 in capability vouchers from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, which businesses can use to improve capability in areas such as governance, marketing and financial management.

People are at the heart of any successful business. Through our Waikato Regional Labour Market Strategy, we are helping build, attract and retain skills and talent. We have launched and will lead the implementation of this Strategy, through which employers can partner to co-design and develop the tools and understanding required to support trade apprentices, young and migrant workers, and interns.   

To assist us with this work, we are leveraging resources from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Ministry of Business Investment and Employment. We work in partnership with sector leaders, education providers, iwi, central and local government agencies to guide outcomes for our community.

It is in the best interest of our wider economy to ensure Māori business is connected to the support, resources, and funding they need to grow sustainably. To this end, we are making the most of our unique cultural heritage by working in partnership with stakeholders to deliver outcomes for Māori that are captured in Te Whare Ohaoha, the Waikato region’s Māori Economic Development Plan.

This month’s TechFest has attracted industry leaders, experts and entrepreneurs from across the country. It’s exciting to see the event bringing together hundreds of technology leaders, business and the wider community. It has been an opportunity for them to see, touch and experience innovative technology solutions, as well as network and showcase products.

TechFest is just one initiative of the Digital Waikato Strategy 2025 as we work with CultivateIT to grow investment in research and innovation in the tech industry.

With support from Waikato Regional Council, Te Waka shares knowledge, insight and information, such as Blair Keenan’s quarterly economic report, to help guide the decision making of businesses and organisations in our region. Last year, Blair provided valuable insight into labour market productivity, tourism, labour market structure, and the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor.

Te Waka continues to expand its free business growth advisory services. Our team is helping connect business owners with the right resources and experts to build their capability and help them grow. In the last 12 months, we have extended the service’s reach to Te Kuiti, Ōtorohanga, Matamata and Te Aroha, resulting in 53 new business engagements to date.

If we want to attract businesses, skills and talent to Waikato, we need adequate housing. As a member of the Regional Housing Initiative Working Group, Te Waka is helping tackle the issue of housing availability and affordability.

Building the capability of Waikato is ongoing and Te Waka is up for the challenge. We’re looking forward to getting some more runs on the board in 2020.

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Michael Bassett-Foss