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From Education to Employment: Megatrends affecting NZ's working environment

Author: Kiernan, Gareth

Organisation: Infometrics

Published: June 2018

Country: New Zealand

Research type: Report

Technological change is ushering us into the biggest transformation of the working environment since the Industrial Revolution. Our modelling estimates that 31% of current jobs in New Zealand’s workforce could be automated over the next 20 years.

This change is occurring in a global economy that is becoming ever more interconnected. The effects on New Zealand are apparent in our trade flows and our increasingly multicultural workforce.

At the same time, there is mounting pushback against the “hands-off” political approach of the last 30 years. For New Zealand’s government, this change includes greater emphasis on environmental outcomes, the search for a broader understanding of wellbeing, and a desire to reduce inequality.

A greater focus on inequality is timely given that lower-skilled workers will be most affected by automation. The government has a key role to ensure these workers have access to retraining options as their existing jobs are automated. We see a need for programmes targeted at Māori and Pasifika to ensure current ethnic inequalities are not exacerbated.

There is also increasing pressure on tertiary organisations to provide more skills-based training that better aligns with employers’ requirements. Changes are likely to include more flexible online learning, the emergence of small- er qualification modules, and greater collaboration between institutions to target high-quality outcomes for students. These moves sit alongside the need for learning resources to be relevant throughout people’s working lives, given the rapidly evolving workplace.

From education to employment: Megatrends affecting NZ’s working environment is structured around the following themes.

  • The economic environment in which we operate covers the overarching external trends affecting the economy and the workplace.

  • Demographic trends and their challenges looks at population projections and their implications for the labour supply.

  • The changing nature of education and training examines the future of tertiary education given the findings from the previous two sections.

Change always comes with challenges. But we believe the disruption to the workplace over the next 20 years offers significant opportunity for this country to improve its economic outcomes. Demand for workers with relevant and transferable skills will be stronger than ever. And appropriate planning and innovation in the education sector will help give all New Zealanders the chance to benefit from the economic transformation that is underway.