New Zealand should embrace disruptive tech: Productivity Commission

While many workers fear the rising tide of technology in the workplace, with AI and automation threatening to make certain roles obsolete, the Productivity Commission believes New Zealand is not embracing these advancements fast enough. 

According to the Commission’s draft New Zealand, technology and productivity report, while the future of work isn’t certain, there isn’t much to support the claims that widespread disruption is on the horizon. 

The report is part of an ongoing inquiry into how New Zealand can maximise the opportunities, as well as understand the the risks involved in disruptive technological change.

“If the rate of technological change was accelerating, you’d expect to see evidence in the official statistics, such as faster productivity growth, more business start-ups, and more jobs being created and destroyed,” inquiry director Judy Kavanagh said. 

“But what we see in New Zealand and across the developed world is the opposite.”

According to Kavanagh, the rate of job destruction has declined in New Zealand since 2000, and rates of job creation are at a similar level to rates in the early 2000s.

“Regardless of how fast technology improves and spreads, there is much that can be done now to help New Zealanders to adjust to changes in work and employment, and to encourage the beneficial adoption of technology,” Kavanagh said. 

According to the report, the New Zealand government can play a vital role in this effort, and could help to realise the potential of technology for economic and social prosperity.

While Kavanagh noted that New Zealand does a poor job of adopting technology swiftly, it may not necessarily be a disadvantage.

The report said that while New Zealand should monitor its labour markets and businesses for major technological disruption, large issues are likely to come up in international businesses before it becomes an issue in New Zealand, due to other countries’ faster technology adoption, allowing New Zealand to solve such issues before they affect its workforce.


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