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Working for a better future of work

I finish ten wonderful years as CTU Policy Director and Economist at the end of the year. In the new year I’ll be working part time for the CTU on the ‘Future of Work’. So it is a good time to look at what the Government is doing in this space.

The CTU view is that there are big changes affecting New Zealand and the world such as those due to technology, climate change, globalisation and population aging. We should not simply accept them as inevitable – there are opportunities and there are threats, and we can make choices as to what we accept and how we regulate what we accept. There are three key pillars to a framework that will both develop good jobs and enable us to adapt positively to change.

All are necessary for success: Industry policy, where the government takes an active role in industry development; Employment law that strengthens collective bargaining to ensure that working people share in the benefits of change; and a capable state that provides security of income plus training and support for those who lose their jobs.

The Government has established a high level Future of Work Tripartite Forum as the focus of its work in this area, co-chaired by the Minister of Finance, and the heads of the CTU and Business NZ. It has recently identified five themes: Creating more adaptive and resilient institutions; Raising workplace productivity and wages; Responsive skills systems enabling learning for life; Helping workers find and keep decent jobs; and Protecting vulnerable workers.

Its immediate priorities within these themes will be:

  • Shaping the strategic direction and focus of Industry Transformation Plans. These are intended to bring together industry participants, including representatives of workers, to agree on where they would like their industry to head, and on the actions necessary to achieve it.
  • Identifying priorities to facilitate in-work training and lifelong learning.
  • Identifying priorities to support workers who have lost their jobs or are at risk of job loss, covering both maintaining their income while they are out of work, and getting assistance with finding a new job.
  • Advising on options for better protecting non-standard workers, starting on better protections for contractors.

Together these are an important programme of work. I look forward to contributing to it.

Download the full bulletin: CTU Economic Bulletin 215 – November 2019