The comments were made during the latest PwC Herald Talks, Global vs Local, held today at the St James Theatre in Wellington.
Keynote speaker and Zuru founder Nick Mowbray said New Zealand did not have a lot of global brands, partly because the education system did not set people up for entrepreneurism.
“We always sit back and rely on our core competencies and export earners, which are agriculture, tourism and education,” Mowbray said.
“But there are lots of small economies that build truly global companies, look at Switzerland or the Nordic markets.
“They have loads of global brands and global companies, and we have very few. So I think it’s how we can create these global companies, and it starts earlier, with education,” he said.
“If you can’t build this into kids from an early age, you’re never going to be good at it later on.”
Mowbray said digital, social and entrepreneurial skills were the new requirements for success, but many New Zealand children were getting an education “from the past”.
“Half the world’s jobs aren’t going to exist in the next 25 to 30 years,” Mowbray said.
“They’re going to be replaced by automation, it’s going to be a robot that flips your burger, it’s going to be self-driving cars. For us, we’re replacing a lot of our production lines with robots,” he said.
“So it’s just the basics of how do I make a product, how do I make a service, what is my channel plan, what is my marketing plan, what is my sales plan?
“All of these basic skills could be taught in school from a young age.”
New Zealand Story Group director Rebecca Smith said better language skills also needed to be added into the mix.
“We need to be teaching our children more about the opportunities that are in the world, creating global citizens, ones that understand different cultures and the diversity of what the world has to offer,” Smith said.
“I’ve got one child who is learning Spanish and one who is learning Chinese, so we figure we’ve got most of the world covered with those two languages.
“As long as they’re learning a different language, it just changes the way the brain functions, and it gives them the opportunity to be open-minded about new languages in the future.”
Smith said New Zealand’s current crop of entrepreneurs scored highly for integrity and honesty, they just needed a bit more confidence.
“We find solutions to problems that other people don’t even think about.
“So we do need to keep that ingenuity and care, it’s why people buy from us.
“Now we need to learn how to sell, and how to market ourselves better. To pitch up and be more confident.”
Opus International Consultants chief executive David Prentice said students needed to be better equipped than they were now, for a world that was rapidly changing.
He said there needed to be changes to focus on the demands of a digital world.
“We simply can’t continue down the path that we’re going using traditional subjects, and expect that in 10, 20, 30 years time they’ll be equipped for what the world is like then.
“IT is very general, it’s very broad. But there’s no doubt about IT and the innovation and opportunities that that creates.
“Whether you’re looking at 3D goggles, or driverless cars, all of it has a fundamental basis in IT.”
The next PwC Herald Talks event is being held in Auckland on Wednesday morning at SkyCity theatre.
Source: NZ Herald