Tertiary education and employment levels were among the issues most discussed by National MP Paul Goldsmith at the Howick Bowling Club earlier this month.
Hosted by Jami-Lee Ross, the May 5 meeting was arranged for the SuperBlues – a group of socially active Kiwis aged over 60 who work collaboratively with National MPs to promote solutions to issues that will enhance a quality environment for senior citizens.
Mr Goldsmith, who works as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Minister of Science and Innovation and Minister for Regulatory Reform, spoke optimistically at the meeting about the future of the New Zealand economy.
Of particular mention was the latest Household Labour Force Survey statistic showing unemployment rates have fallen to 4.9 per cent across the country.
More than 29,000 Kiwis have been employed in the past three months, while the number of New Zealanders engaged in an apprenticeship has risen by nearly 19 per cent since 2012.
It’s an exciting step forward, said Mr Goldsmith, before moving on to the subject of tertiary education – an annual investment of $4.1 billion for the New Zealand government.
Export education currently ranks among the nation’s top five largest export earners and is a game changer within the tertiary education sector.
“It’s an important industry and there is an opportunity to grow it because a lot of people around the world want to come to New Zealand for an English-speaking quality education so the task is to make sure that we maintain high standards and frankly the other task is to make sure the product on offer is a quality education, not some sort of backdoor route to immigration.
“That’s very much my strong message to the authorities dealing with that to make sure we’re focused on that area and it’s an exciting one.”
Around 120 members gathered at the club to hear from Mr Goldsmith, who first became interested in politics after writing a best-seller biography on John Banks at the age of 23.
The keen writer went on to publish twelve books with a focus on prominent businessmen and companies and later worked in parliament as a speech writer.
Through his writing and studies, Mr Goldsmith gained a deeper understanding of the development of the New Zealand economy and successful businesses.
“The main thing I drew out of writing about business history was just how hard and competitive it is… I’ve come into politics with a very strong view that the development of New Zealand’s economy relies on a good, strong, healthy private sector that is internationally competitive.”
As the September general election fast approaches, Mr Goldsmith remains optimistic about New Zealand’s future and has high hopes for National’s place in that.
“There is real reason for optimism about New Zealand’s prospects.
“I think we’ve done a great job over the past eight years under the leadership of John Key and Bill English. My hope is that we’ll get another eight years to carry on that work.”