We had a job summit the other day as part of the Government's gradual acknowledgement of the seriousness of the economic problem. A couple of items pinged my 2020 Trust Chairperson's antennae. Jobs summit throws up three big ideas
A nine-day working fortnight, an investment fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars and - the surprise item - a cycleway the length of New Zealand are among the few specific ideas to emerge in a 21-point plan to counter the ailing economy.
Prime Minister John Key will give priority to working on taxpayer-paid training subsidies for businesses that cut a working fortnight to nine days, with nine days' pay.
But he has ruled out the Government entirely paying the wages for the tenth day, saying: "I think it wouldn't be possible to fund it 100 per cent." The Government was more likely to pay for training than wage replacement.
Fair point, although I wish they would add a provision that the day could also be spent on volunteering for the NFP sector; the services they provide are in growing demand while their funding is collapsing like everyone else's.
In December 2008 there were a little over 2 million people employed in this country; if only 10% of them were able to give a day a fortnight to voluntary work in the NFP sector, we could add nearly a million hours of effort per week to that sector; I'd vote for that.
A couple of weeks ago we launched a partnership with MicrosoftNZ for a programme we called Stepping UP that uses our Computers in Homes programme as a platform for delivering MS' UP suite to rural and underserved communities. Steven Tindall's offer looks very tempting, especially as we are hoping that the CiH programme might shift from project-based to a longer term ciommitment from the government.