This week we attended a Microsoft Panel Event to discuss what the ICT industry, Unions, Government and training partners are doing to help re-tool and upskill the public in this economic downturn. Microsoft were excited to announce the release of their Toolshed which has been developed to help people get their hands on the 'right tools for the job'. They have also extended the DreamSpark program to highschoolers which is cool, and are encouraging more start-up businesses to apply for the BizSpark program. Litmos was accepted in to Bizspark in 2008 and it has been beneficial in many ways, most importantly we have free access to all Microsoft development tools and many exposure opportunities through them.
I want to mention one particular panel member who spoke with optimism about the future, a very interesting woman Benedikte Jensen (Research Director, The New Zealand Institute) formerly Economic and Financial Adviser to the Prime Minister. Jensen explained, and I am paraphrasing her words here, that we are moving from the 'old economy' to the 'new economy'. She believes the economic recession should be seized as an opportunity to re-tool our workforce and increase computer literacy rates so that we can make the successful transition and come out guns blazing (my words). She believes those that will benefit the most from this 'new economy' will be digitally enabled companies. Whereas the 1980's up until now has been all about meaningful education, now we're seeing the importance of social capital and connecting to other communities.
I'll round-up with a few points Jensen made about the 'new economy':
- Companies that work on a hierarchical structure will be in trouble
- Opportunities will be seized by niche players
- Adaptable and nimble start-ups will thrive
She believes that New Zealanders are generally adaptable and nimble, but concedes that the successful roll-out of the Government's highspeed broadband plans are integral to our success.