No captionWe have seen over 200,000 jobs created in the last three years, record numbers of highly-skilled graduates, and major growth in new and emerging hi-tech sectors like the software services sector.Steven JoyceEconomic Development Minister Steven Joyce says the Budget 2016 contains the \u201csingle biggest investment in science and innovation in a long time\u201d. A package of $761.4 million is geared towards an \u201cInnovative New Zealand\u201d. Innovative New Zealand focuses on growing our science system, producing the 21st century skills New Zealand needs, and encouraging innovation and industry investment in regional New Zealand, says Joyce at the annual Grant Thornton post-Budget forum. The investment is broken down into: $410.5 million for science and innovation, taking the Government\u2019s annual science investment to $1.6 billion by 2020.$256.5 million for more tertiary education and apprenticeship programmes, particularly in the areas of science, engineering and agriculture.$94.4 million to support regional economic development with initiatives to unlock business opportunities and benefit regional communities. "We have been making very good progress as a country since the Global Financial Crisis. We have been the world\u2019s seventh fastest growing developed economy over the past five years,\u201d says Joyce. \u201cWe have seen over 200,000 jobs created in the last three years, record numbers of highly-skilled graduates, and major growth in new and emerging hi-tech sectors like the software services sector.Anna Curzon of Xero: 'There has never been a better time to get into STEM (science, technology engineering and maths)' \u201cNow we need to continue that momentum. This package of initiatives will build on the progress we are making and strengthen the diversification that is occurring across the New Zealand economy.\u201d He notes while there has been a decline in dairy exports in the previous year, overall exports are up by $2 billion, from $67 billion to $69 billion. \u201cDiversification is happening in front of our eyes," he says, referring to the continuous growth of industries like tourism, international education, food export (beef and wine) and ICT software as a service. His speech also touched on the social investment side of the budget, explaining the approach of \u201cthrowing money into the problem\u201d where investment has significant impact. He explains how this \u201ccross sector approach\u201d using data is applied in education. Rather than funding schools by decile, the government is matching data from the Ministry of Social Development with the Department of Education and paying according to the number of kids they have that come from benefit dependent households. There are 100,000 children in the target group who are spending significant time in a benefit dependent household. There will be increased focus on these students most at risk and their outcomes, he states. The same data driven approach is applied to other areas of public services. For instance, $200 million are allotted for reform of services for vulnerable children and young people; and $50 million will be used to reduce barriers to employment including for people with complex health conditions.James Mansell, NZ Data Alliance: Why are we not systematically aggregating data to force (and support) the government to see the full picture to make better social investment decisions?The investment approach on the social side is a revolutionary way of delivering government services.Nick Tuffley, ASBGame changing approach"The investment approach on the social side is a revolutionary way of delivering government services," says ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley, another speaker at the post-Budget forum. "It is a game-changing approach to effective policy outcomes." "Although it has some critics, we think the logic of the social investment approach is pretty compelling," notes KPMG in its comments on Budget2016.\u201cEffective social intervention is not only good for the people it\u2019s helping - it\u2019s also good for the Government\u2019s books and a more prosperous New Zealand overall.\u201d KPMG says the social investment approach is also likely to survive the current Government in some form \u201cgiven that the idea of using data and analysis to inform evidence-based spending decisions is hard to argue with.\u201d \u201cThis is reinforced by the fiscal benefits \u2013 reducing future social spending gives future governments more discretion over where government expenditure is applied,\u201d the report states.Ministry of Social Development wields analytics to cut welfare costsSend news tips and comments to\email@example.comFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinapFollow CIO New Zealand on\nTwitter:@cio_nzSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.Join us on Facebook.Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. 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