The Government, unions and businesses are joining forces in what the Prime Minister has described as a “tripartite Future Work Forum.”
Speaking at a BusinessNZ pre-Budget lunch, Jacinda Ardern said it’s important for the groups to come together to develop a plan that “future proofs the economy.”
The Forum will be made up of BusinessNZ, the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) and the Government.
Ardern says she has asked Finance Minister Grant Robertson to lead to work with BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope and CTU President Richard Wagstaff.
“This Government is keen to future-proof our economy, to have both budget sustainability and environmental sustainability, to prepare people for climate change and the fact that 40% of today’s jobs will not exist in a few decades,” she says.
The forum will help in shaping policies needed for workers and businesses to be equipped for the “rapidly changing nature of work.”
“We know the challenge is coming, we need to be ready and together I am hoping we can work through these issues. And most importantly avoid the mistakes of the past where economic shocks damaged communities up and down New Zealand.”
She says because of climate change, 40% of today’s jobs won’t exist in the next few decades.
Speaking to media after the speech, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said jobs “all across the board” will be impacted by the coming changes.
“Often, we think about how process-based jobs, more blue-collar based jobs being the ones that will go first. Actually, the rapid growth of things such as artificial intelligence is actually changing more white-collar jobs.”
One of the ways the Government will be helping workers in the coming years will be getting them into further education, Ardern says.
“Given we have tried to improve the accessibility of our further training and education, particularly access to vocational training and apprenticeships, we will be exploring how can we partner with business to develop that for their workers.”
Ardern also outlined some of the Government’s key priorities for the Budget.
She, like Robertson earlier this week, defended the Budget responsibility rules of reducing debt to 20% of GDP by 2021/22.
“You will see a strong focus on delivering economic growth, on running sustainable surpluses and reducing net debt as a proportion of GDP.
“We know we have to live within our means and we will.”
She also spoke about her commitment to lifting productivity – New Zealand’s economic Achilles heel.
“This will involve increases in both public investment as well as incentives for business.”
The Prime Minister also again took a swing at the previous Government for leaving the books in a poor state.
“You will see a clear commitment to investing in the critical services we rely on and addressing areas of neglect. This Government will make targeted investments to address our social and infrastructure deficits.”