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Work disruption due to tech claims overblown says commission

19 September 2019

A Productivity Commission draft report on technology and productivity in New Zealand says there’s little suggestion of widespread disruption due to new technology, and suggests a workplace issue is the lack of modern technology.

The report, New Zealand, technology and productivity: technological change and the future of work, looks at the factors affecting technology adoption and how this impacts on the labour market. It also examines how technology affected jobs in the past.

The Commission found:

  • There is little in the available data that widespread disruption to work is coming soon.
  • Technology and labour-market trends in NZ tend to lag behind those overseas.
  • The main problem facing New Zealand today isn’t too much technology, it’s not enough.

“A continuation of existing trends seems the most likely scenario, including further automation of routine tasks and the concentration of knowledge-intensive jobs in major cities. It is unlikely that, in the next 10–15 years, automation technologies will widely displace human labour in New Zealand,” the report notes.

“Increased technology with fewer jobs is a low-likelihood but high-consequence outcome. However, a stagnation scenario of low productivity growth and a significant risk of high unemployment is more likely than large-scale technological displacement of work. Neither outcome should be completely discounted.”

The Commission says this first draft report is a scene setter, and that the body will provide further analysis and advice in three upcoming draft reports: Employment, labour markets and income in October, Education and skills in November and Preparing New Zealand for the future in December.

The commission is seeking feedback by 20 January 2020, on the draft report.

Last updated on the 19th September 2019