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Smart Talk - Future Thinking

This week SEG representatives joined over 200 business leaders, developers, politicians and planners in a conversation about the future of the Bay of Plenty.

The event was organised by the Smart Growth initiative in collaboration with Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and Priority 1. The keynote speaker, Professor Paul Spoonley, Massey University's Pro Vice Chancellor, is an expert of demography, migration, population trends, labour markets, the Auckland driver effect and regional futures.

Prof. Spoonley spoke broadly about the changing environment of New Zealand and offered insights into the future projections of the Bay of Plenty region based on existing trends. He indicated that Tauranga growth will remain steady on the back of continued strong growth in Auckland and growth in the 'golden triangle' of Auckand, Tauranga and Hamilton. He identified an upcoming challenge for the region "By 2031 in the Bay of Plenty it is projected that over 30% of the population will be in the 65+ age group," he said, indicating that a number of challenges will arise as this generation leaves the workforce and becomes dependents.

Prof. Spoonley challenged what could be done to make use of the aged population, which is something the Bay of Plenty faces: "Instead of locking them away in rest homes, how can we utilise this generation better?" He used Holland as an example, where planning restrictions mean rest homes must be attached to a primary school to facilitate the passing of knowledge and experiences between generations.

SEG director Richard Saunders attended the conference and agreed with this concept, saying in New Zealand too often the old are put into rest homes or retirement villages and seemingly 'forgotten about', so being in close proximity with a school and having a relationship with children is a good way to pass stories and experiences through the generations and keep the ageing population engaged and contributing to society in a positive way.

The local and national labour markets was another topic Prof. Spoonley spoke about. He said: "50% of jobs in 2017 will no longer exist in 2027. The old way of thinking will not work in an ever-changing future and needs to adapt."

He went on to challenge the supply of skilled labour, and where this would come from. Prof. Spoonley indicated that education institutions need to be proactive in what they are doing and that "manpower" planning should be strongly considered at a strategic and regulatory level, truly understanding the business needs and economic forecasts. Prof. Spoonley also discussed the immigrant situation, and how dependent the Bay of Plenty region is on skilled and unskilled immigrants.

bay of plenty times news story:

Some interesting Smart Growth fact sheets for the region can be found at:

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