Automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation issues facing the country could become threats, leading to increased social and economic difficulties and a strain on government resources unless they are immediately addressed, New Zealand’s tech leader say.
The TechLeaders executive has only recently just been formed because New Zealand is facing unprecedented growth and change in tech, which is now the nation’s fastest growing sector.
TechLeaders from some of New Zealand’s biggest companies and organisations has been set up with the support of NZTech and is a group of New Zealand tech, digital and ICT focused-executives from leading organisations.
They have just met in Auckland and all agreed AI and other digital changes will greatly impact on many of today’s jobs in coming years, as well as the income of many Kiwi families, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.
“Automation will change just about every industry in New Zealand and over the next few years rapidly change the number and type of jobs available. If we act now to prepare the New Zealand workforce for these changes it may provide opportunities.
“If left unaddressed these opportunities will turn to challenges and potential threats leading to increased social and economic difficulties and a strain on government resources.
“The TechLeaders discussed how we can help prepare New Zealand’s future workforce. Being at the forefront of technology change these senior executives have insight into the pace of change and see critical elements in ensuring Kiwi families all have jobs in the future.
“We need to ensure that our education system is developing the skills needed for a future workforce, in particular, an understanding of digital technologies and collaborative working practices.
“We need to start developing policy and a national shared purpose around how to re-train or upskill current employees who work in jobs that may change or disappear rapidly due to technology.
“Through the discussion a number of ways were identified where technology leaders and industry could play an active role in helping secure the future of work for Kiwis. We must bring a stronger connection with education to help prepare students, support teachers and support the introduction of the new digital technology curriculum.
“And we need to work with government to help reshape the national conversation away from the robots are taking my jobs to a more positive view that encourages upskilling.”
TechLeaders chair David Kennedy says they have a responsibility as industry leaders to prepare future generations for what tomorrow holds.
“We are well placed people to help tackle the difficult questions that need to be addressed to ensure future work for generations of Kiwis,” Mr Kennedy says.
“We all agree that tech leaders and industry have a role and responsibility to guide and support initiatives to retrain people for the new skills paradigm brought on by technological change. The development of the next generation of workers is also critical.”
Among a series of recommendations, the leaders want to reduce fear-inducing messaging about everyone losing their jobs and robots taking over.