Media release: Why New Zealand should go Swiss

Media release
30 October, 2017

Wellington (30 October 2017): As the new Labour/NZ First Government pushes for stronger regional development, New Zealand should learn from the country that does regional development best. And that country is Switzerland, argues a new report by think tank The New Zealand Initiative.
In May this year, a group of 36 senior business leaders representing about a quarter of New Zealand GDP visited Switzerland. The New Zealand Initiative, which organised this delegation, now outlines the learnings in its report Go Swiss. And many of them apply directly to the new Government’s policy agenda.
Said Dr Oliver Hartwich, Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative: “Switzerland is a country that superficially looks a bit like New Zealand. Rolling hills, steep mountains and beautiful lakes are part of the scenery in both countries. But look beyond the surface and you find that Switzerland has many policy settings that are superior to ours.”
The learnings from Switzerland fall into four distinct categories: a direct and participatory democracy, devolved government, a strong vocational training system and a flexible labour market. Some aspects cannot be easily transferred to other countries. However, both the Swiss education system and its strong regionalism could well serve as role models for New Zealand. They could also help the new Government to achieve its goals.
“Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has promised to strengthen and revive our regions,” said Dr Hartwich. “Yet his billion-dollar fund pales into insignificance compared to the rewards Swiss regions can reap from economic development.”
Similarly, the Labour Party has called for more apprenticeships in New Zealand, and again Switzerland leads the world in this field with its dual education system.
“In Switzerland, training in companies goes hand in hand with further schooling. Many jobs can be learnt that way, including those which require university training in New Zealand,” said Dr Hartwich. “The Swiss show us how apprenticeships can deliver high skills and excellent job prospects.”
With its report, The New Zealand Initiative aims to introduce new ideas into New Zealand’s political debates.
“It is important to look for innovative ideas around the world and take the best of them to New Zealand. When it comes to promoting economic development and education, we should learn from the best. And that is what our delegation was about. We are happy to offer these ideas to our political parties,” said Dr Hartwich.
Read more:
You can download Go Swiss: Learnings from The New Zealand Initiative's visit to Switzerland on our website


Dr Oliver Hartwich is available for interviews, please contact:

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 172 8036

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