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RCSA Member Forum – The Future of Work in New Zealand

RCSA Member Forum – The Future of Work in New Zealand

Rydges Auckland
Kingston Rooms 1 & 2
59 Federal Street, Central City Auckland

Grant Robertson, NZ Labour MP, and Spokesperson for Finance and Chair of the Future of Work Commission, Jacinda Ardern, Small Business Spokesperson and Iain Lees-Galloway, NZ Labour will join members of the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association at a member forum in Auckland, on Wednesday September 30, 2015 to look at the Future of Work in New Zealand.

The forum will look at the future of work and the jobs, cultures and changes required for New Zealand to cultivate, recruit and retain workers for the future.


Recent research has indicated that 50% of today’s jobs won’t exist in 20 years.

This is because of digital disruption. As machines increasingly perform complex tasks once thought to be safely reserved for humans, the question has become harder to shrug off – what jobs will be left for people?

Fear of automation is not new

In 1589 workers and governments were in fear of the invention of the knitting frame. This mechanisation of hand-knitting sparked much of the same reaction, even the Queen was so concerned she would not approve the devise noting ‘It would assuredly bring them (her subjects and the workers) to ruin by depriving them of employment’.

As recently as 1964, the dawn of the computer age, a group of scientists and social theorists sent an open letter to United States president Lyndon Johnson warning that cybernation “results in a system of almost unlimited productive capacity, which requires progressively less human labour.”

What jobs will prosper

Jobs of the future may include:

• Jobs requiring emotional intelligence: sales people, coaches, customer service specialists, creators of ‘New’ stuff and ideas

• Jobs that are difficult to automate: health care, personal services, trade skills and STEM

• Jobs of the future will require a commitment to lifelong learning in order to remain across new developments and skills that will be available from a huge number of places.

All job growth since 1980 has been in occupations that are relatively social-skill intensive and the future is with high skilled, hard-to-automate jobs requiring increasingly demanding social adeptness.

An overarching view is that the labour market increasingly rewards social skills and interaction while business rewards innovation, growth and economic gain. A combination of the desires and needs of workers, the labour market and business is shaping the future world of work – along with enablers such as technology, demographic changes and our ability to change the culture of work.

One strong theme in identifying where the jobs of the future may be revolves around social skill requirements. Since 1980, jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater relative growth. Moreover, employment and wage growth has been strongest in jobs that require high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill.

This is reflected in reports from the US showing the growing importance of social skills:

• Social skills are valued in jobs across the entire wage distribution

• Social skill and cognitive skill complement each other

• Jobs that require low levels of social skills are also likely to be routine jobs (filing clerks, factory jobs) at high risk of automation.

Social skills are prized because computers are still bad at simulating social interaction. Computers, technology and machines are very good at specific things they are programmed to be good at, but they are not flexible.

Data shows that social skill tasks grew by 24% from 1980 to 2012, compared with only about 11% for jobs such as math-intensive tasks. The importance of social skills has grown by about 2% in the 2000s. Jobs characterised by routine work have continued to decline.

Some examples of jobs most at risk of being replaced

• Telemarketers

• Title Examiners, abstractors and searchers

• Mathematical technicians

• Insurance underwriters

• Cargo and freight agents

• Tax preparers

• Photographic process workers

• New accounts clerks

• Library Technicians

• Data entry keyers

• Insurance claims

• Brokerage clerks

• Order clerks

• Loan officers

• Insurance appraisers

• Tellers

Flexibility and collaboration

Work environments of the future and flexible work and collaborative work environments will be a foundation for production and economic growth. Environments that fully utilise the power of technology to their own advantage will prosper compared with those that cultivate work roles that are ‘high risk’ and become slaves to technology and automation.

Here are some themes:

• Work can happen wherever you are, anywhere at any time

• Commuting is changing and ‘Peak Hour’ is on the extinct list. In many major cities, for example, evening peak period in 1978/79 was focused between 3.00 and 5.15pm whereas evening peak is now between 3.00pm and 8.00pm. The same for the morning “rush”. In part, this is due to longer work hours, but mainly flexible work environments and the changing nature of work

• One size no longer fits all for work – multiple generations and expanding opportunities for work outside the traditional are growing a new work culture and opportunities

• Divide between work and life is rapidly disappearing

• One of the greatest challenges of the Future World of Work is determining when ‘on’ should actually be ‘off’. Do you clear your work emails at 10pm, or when on holiday?

• Re-value the value of your work and contribution

• Love what you do – but that which is of value and valuable

• Be defined by ‘What are you working on?’ rather than ‘Who do you work for?’

Independent professionals

The growth of independent professionals continues around the world as technology and work cultures open new doors to collaborative work environments.

Media contact at the forum: Simon Schweigert (Manager, Government Relations and Media RCSA) ph +61 425 338 487 and John Harland (Chair RCSA New Zealand Region Council) +64 217 07482.

Speakers for this forum include:

• Introduction:

o John Harland, Chair RCSA New Zealand Region Council

• Speakers:

o Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington and Spokesperson for Finance

o Steve Shepherd, Group Director Randstad and Board Member of Ciett (Confederation of Private Employment Agencies)

o Jacinda Ardern, Small Business Spokesperson

o Iain Lees-Galloway, NZ Labour

Proposed attendees for this forum include:

o RCSA members and their clients

o Employers

o Business groups and representatives

o Government and authorities

Proposed format for the forum is:

• Lunch forum between 12.30pm to 2.00pm:

12.30pm Introduction: John Harland, Chair RCSA New Zealand Region Council

12.35pm Speaker: Future of Work Commission: Grant Robertson, Labour Spokesperson for Finance and Chair of the Future of Work Commission.

12.50pm Lunch served

1.10pm Speaker: Global Perspectives on the Future of Work: Steve Shepherd, Group Director Randstad and Board Member of Ciett (Confederation of Private Employment Agencies)

1.25pm Panel discussion (moderated by RCSA)

• Grant Robertson

• Steve Shepherd

• Jacinda Ardern, Small Business Spokesperson

• Iain Lees-Galloway, NZ Labour

1.50pm Conclusions: John Harland

2.00pm End


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