India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) – the premier trade organisation in New Zealand working for over 25 years to build trade relations between India and New Zealand –brought together key stakeholders from the education sector in India and New Zealand in the recently held summit – Edutech 2017 in Auckland.

The summit witnessed high political commitment from the New Zealand side including Prime Minister Bill English; Minister for Trade, Todd McClay; Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Paul Goldsmith and Minister for Commerce & Small Business, Jacqui Dean.

The Labour Party was represented by Michael Wood, as a spokesperson for Ethnic Communities.

Prime Minister Rt Hon. Bill English

The Indian side comprised a high level inward delegation of key stakeholders in the education sector including heads of many educational institutions and industry leaders like Mohandas Pai, the former founder-CFO of India’s Information Technology (IT) global giant Infosys and the current Chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Skills Committee and chairman of one of India’s largest education conglomerates, the Manipal Global Education.

The key body on the Indian side complementing INZBC in New Zealand was FICCI – an apex Indian trade body.

The summit was planned late last year during the Prime Ministerial visit of Sir John Key to India.

The key outcome of the one-day summit was an accentuation of the fact that the education and services sector is a very vital part of the New Zealand economy and collaboration alone can help it grow. The industry has to look at new ways of working with overseas companies and create new pathways, which is a win-win for both New Zealand and India.

Group shot with EDU NZ students

This was the essence of the talks given by various industry heads and policy makers at the INZBC Summit 2017.

The theme of the summit was ‘Knowledge, Skill and Technology’.

The one-day event was supported by the Indian High Commission and FICCI.Other government agencies involved were Education NZ, NZTE and MFAT. Westpac and Weltec&Whitireia were the strategic partners of the Summit.

Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Bill English acknowledged and emphasised the value that international education industry and immigrants bring to New Zealand economy and society.

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of migrants getting new skills into the country and helping in the growth of the economy.

“Education sector helps in the process of new skill development in the country, which is very vital for the economy,” Mr English said.

The Minister of Trade, Todd McClay, acknowledged the importance of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between both the countries and committed to continue the talks if returned to form the government after the elections.

The minister said that he was hopeful of meeting the Commerce Minister of India if elected back, to take the negotiations forward.

The minister also said that special attention would be given to the services sector and the education industry, so that they also get benefits out of the FTA, suggesting this government’s increasing resolve to accommodate India’s genuine interests that are supposedly delaying the progress of talks.

Speaking at the Summit, FICCI Secretary GeneralDr. A Didar Singh said, “Changing technology impacts the business of education and skill development. New Zealand should look at India for opportunities in services like education, healthcare, etc., in addition to the manufacturing sector. INZBC and FICCI collaboration and partnership can play a facilitating role in this direction.”

Sobha Mishra Ghosh_FICCI_Assistant Secretery General

Dr. Singh, who led the delegation, was happy that the delegation could travel all over New Zealand and have B2B meetings, before the summit. The delegation had visits to the University of Canterbury, ARA Institute and Lincoln University in Canterbury. Later they had a meeting of the India-NZ Friendship group at the Parliament in Wellington, organised by Kiwi-Indian MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.

Education NZ Excellence Awards

A major highlight of the summit was that thirty-one talented young university students from India received a 2017 New Zealand Excellence Award, by Education New Zealand (ENZ).  The students are pursuing undergraduate or postgraduate study in New Zealand in the fields of business, design or STEM related programmes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  

ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson said, “India is a core trade, economic, political and education partner for New Zealand, with two-way trade valued at around $2.5 billion.

“These top young scholars will further strengthen ties between our two countries, by contributing to a broader exchange of ideas in our universities, building our respective research capabilities, and enriching New Zealand culture," Mr McPherson said. 

Nineteen of the students received their awards in person at the summit. This is the first round of the awards, and each scholarship has a value of NZ $5,000 towards the first year tuition fee.