By: Holly Ryan

Chorus chief executive Kate McKenzie, pictured at the Chorus head office in downtown Auckland. Photo / File

Chorus chief executive Kate McKenzie says New Zealand needs to change its education system to better prepare children for work.

As well as ensuring everyone had access to education, McKenzie said teaching children the skills to cope with change and to be resilient was important.

“The world is shifting with technology and many curriculums are stuck in a pre-technology world in terms of what kids are learning and so I think being able to provide an environment where different learning styles can thrive and where kids learn how to learn is really important,” she said.

Based on current research, it was unlikely people would get a job and keep it for 40 years, and the current education system was not one that had dealt with these challenges, McKenzie said.

“Kids of today will be entering a world where they’ll probably have a whole array of different careers. So teaching people things like resilience and coping with change, as well as teaching people how to think and learn new things over the course of their career is becoming increasingly more important than some other basic things we’re teaching.”

Increasing immigration was also a priority for the chief executive who said this was necessary for continued economic growth.

“I think free movement of people and goods is always a good thing anywhere, but particularly in the New Zealand context,” she said.

“We’re pretty close to full employment and if that’s with immigration and there’s a zero to negative birth rate I don’t know where the growth in economy is going to come from so I think that’s pretty straightforward.

“We need more immigration and as a relative newcomer to the country it looks to me like there’s a reasonable capacity to absorb that. We need to do it thoughtfully, but we do need to do it.”

When it came to what her top concerns were for Chorus in the coming year, McKenzie said she was hoping for stability.

The business had made huge investments in plans that she said would pay off long term, as long as the regulatory environment remained relatively stable.

“People changing their minds a lot is a disaster for these sorts of environments and so far that has been pretty good and we’re really happy to see there is bipartisan support for the rolling-out of fibre – that’s really encouraging for us because we’re a good percentage of the way through the build so we need to get on and finish it.”

As the only female chief executive in the NZX 50 companies, she hoped the number would increase in the coming year.

Kate McKenzie’s top three issues

  • Improving customer experience.
  • Innovation – expects to collaborate with entrepreneurs and start-ups (over next three years).
  • Growth.

The Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom 2017 Election Survey attracted participation from 118 respondents. The results were debated this morning by shadow finance spokesman Grant Robertson and National’s Finance Minister Steven Joyce.

Source: NZ Herald

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