Businesses unite

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It’s been a strange month in Waitaki as Covid percolates through our community.

I’m pleased to say that in typical North Otago fashion it’s almost business as usual for some sectors.

The announcement of the end of vaccine mandates has breathed a sigh of relief through hospitality and tourism, allowing us to come together as a workforce and community again and, in time, welcome international tourism back to the Waitaki.

As we emerge from the restrictions placed on our community, there was a timely meeting of the Regional Skills Leadership Group (RSLG). The goal of the RSLG is to identify and support better ways of meeting future skills and workforce needs in the region.

To achieve this, the group is focused on three strategic goals:

– For our workforce to have the right skills and capability to support Otago’s current and future labour market demands.

– For everyone in Otago to have equitable access to the support they need to grow and navigate within the labour market at all stages of their working lives.

– For all Otago workplaces to be workerfriendly, safe, inclusive, and support both workers and employers, to thrive.

The group focused on primary, construction, health care, accommodation and food services, with some interesting outcomes and commonalities. All participants recognised the importance of building resilient small communities that can continue to offer critical roles.

To mitigate the current lack of staff felt throughout the economy, the group suggested a linked-up approach to communicate employment opportunities at all life stages, as well as the creation of an intermediary cross-sector employment entity.

It seems our key to success may be collaboration across sectors and businesses, rather than competition.

To collaborate is to be human, according to Rutger Bregman. Check out his life-affirming book Humankind: A Hopeful History, which debunks the popularly-held belief that beneath a veneer of civilisation we are all brutes who are only out for ourselves.

Recognition of collaboration trumping competition was echoed at the Business South BA5 event held at Topflite in March. Topflite is on the cusp of launching an exciting new product that is the result of local business collaboration.

On April 5, The Business Hive looks forward to hearing from two Waitaki businesses, Whistle & Pop and What’s for Smoko, who are letting us in on the secret of how to drive digital sales. Please register for this event on the Business South website, business-south.org.nz/events.

When businesses support businesses, learning from each other and collaborating, it truly makes us greater than the sum of our parts.

Rebecca Finlay is Business South’s Waitaki business navigator