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Labour poses the question: Are we ready for the Future of Work?

By Catherine Knowles
Thu 30 Jul 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Labour has released it’s first discussion paper on the Future of Work Commission, that looks at five core themes about New Zealand working life.

One of these themes is technology, and education is a crucial way New Zealand students can enagage with world of technology from a young age and be prepared for a career in today's world.

Commission chair, Grant Robertson, says the discussion paper poses some important questions, such as: Is it time for coding to be taught in all our schools to prepare Kiwi kids for the Future of Work? Do we need to create digital apprenticeships? Would digital hubs help lure employers to our regions?

Robertson says, “The Future of Work Commission was established late last year to examine how New Zealand can seize on the opportunities created by the changing nature of work and maximise our potential as a smart, green and prosperous nation.

“This two-year project aims to make sure Kiwis can face the future with confidence and have sustainable, fulfilling and well-paid employment in the coming decades."

He says, “Over the next few weeks we will be releasing a series of discussion papers looking at issues including security of work and income, education and training, economic development and sustainability and the Māori and Pasifika workforces.”

The Technology discussion paper looks at how technology is impacting on work and how New Zealand can use innovation to create decent jobs with high wages.

“This is an exciting time of real change in our society but also a time of insecurity for those who may see their job disappear or conditions of work radically change.

“A recent Australian report estimated up to 40% of the workforce is at risk of being replaced by technology in the next 10-15 years,” Robertson says.

This technology workstream is led by MPs Clare Curran and David Cunliffe and offers insight into ideas as to how New Zealand can embrace changing technology, and ensure everyone has access to the opportunities it brings, according to Robertson.

Curran says whether you’re starting school, going for your first job, running a business or facing redundancy, everyone is affected.

“We need new skills, new business models and new ways of approaching work. Government has a crucial role to play in this but we must get it right,” she says.

Cunliffe says there are huge opportunities for small geographically distant countries like New Zealand where technology has reduced the tyranny of distance.

“We must create a truly ‘smart economy’ rather than being wedded to a commodity driven one. But we must ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in and benefit from this new world,” he says.

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