4.0 Where to from here – addressing the gaps

4.1 Developing a vision

Our challenge is to work out how to lift New Zealand’s future economy beyond it’s current struggle with technological developments and make it a pathway to success. Our best approach to the future of work is to create jobs – that is also our best chance of preserving existing ones.

Technology is an enabler of education, adaptability, agility and competitive advantage. It has a central role in our economy. It is having profound effects on our behaviour, interactions and communities.

The pace of change is coinciding with an explosion in computer processing power, mass connectivity amongst a high proportion of the population, globalisation of supply chains and an ageing population willing and needing to work longer coupled with increasingly high youth unemployment.

We are entering an era of technological unemployment different to past eras where leaps in technology displaced workers but also created new kinds of work, better quality of life and productivity gains. The burning question is whether today’s innovations continue that or displace workers without creating opportunities to employ them elsewhere?

The role of government becomes essential with important challenges around the redistribution of incomes and ensuring the state maintains a share of the intellectual property it protects in order to address rising inequalities.

Agility is critical to both business and government so they can both respond swiftly to change but also create change. It will also be essential within the public sector to improve public services and to facilitate new models of social entrepreneurship.

We need a nationwide strategy for New Zealand that will make us a highly prized boutique nation of tech-savvy businesses, with a joined up and efficient public sector and a tech-capable workforce where there is no such thing as a digital divide. Where everyone, no matter their background, age, ethnicity or geographical location, has access to technology and opportunities to develop and realise their potential and access important services to lead fulfilling lives.

At the moment, there is no roadmap for our digital future. Our kids are leaving school ill-equipped for the digital environment or aware of career options. Our nation’s small businesses are too busy keeping their heads above water to take advantage of the immediate productivity gains from an online presence.

The opportunity for New Zealand is to shape and sustain the technology sector to build higher value jobs, create opportunities and to sell our brain capital to the world.

Success is ensuring that technology is delivering decent work and higher wages for Kiwis. For public policy makers, there are ‘good bets’ in terms of Government investment in R&D and education. But there are no guarantees that specific technological applications developed here will become the market leaders.

Government investment therefore needs to take both a strategic (where are we headed) and tactical (what can we do now) perspective to its policy and funding. It also means that investing in blue skies research with the potential for IP development is therefore just as important as backing specific applications.

4.2 Questions and Ideas

Question

Issues/Ideas for Discussion

What are the likely technology industry trends that will impact us?

  • Nano, 3D, immersives

  • Clean tech, biotech, biology based technology

  • Potential consumer shift to Organics, traceability, carbon miles etc

  • Online experiential technology, gaming

How can government play a leadership role in supporting a high growth technology sector?

  • Establish a Chief Technology Officer akin to the Chief Science Officer to advise the Prime Minister.

  • Ensure MBIE and Statistics NZ collect and analyse data for the Innovation and ICT sector

  • Support for research and development

What do we need to have to support the development of new digital business models?

  • Understanding of workforce needs

  • Competitive online environment

  • Resilience, security, privacy concerns

  • User confidence and capability

  • Competition loopholes

How do we encourage flexible work practices that ensure employees are still protected and supported?

  • Create digital work hubs

What will best ensure we have a highly skilled, resilient workforce to tackle new technology?

  • Teach coding and basic programming in schools

  • Teach the teachers to teach tech

  • Career development for digital workforce

  • Digital apprenticeships

  • Immigration policy

How do we ensure digital infrastructure (broadband) is fit for purpose in both urban and rural NZ?

  • International connectivity

  • Resourcing communities to improve connectivity

  • Ensuring affordability of fast broadband

  • Ease of access

How can we bridge the digital divide which is affecting those who cannot afford access, or who are constrained through geography, age, disability?

  • Building individual capability, useful or desirable content, and ubiquitous connectivity

  • Community benefit requires participation, clustering

  • Free Wi-Fi in community centres

  • Better infrastructure

What sort of regulatory framework do we need for big data?

  • Ensure consumers are protected and firms maximise productivity

How do we encourage, sustain and mature our technology innovation?

  • Protecting software from patent restrictions

  • Freeing up venture capital, crowdfunding

  • Improved R&D

  • Interest free loans for start-ups

  • Government procurement targeted to small businesses

How do we reduce the negative social impacts of technology?

  • German model limiting contact outside working hours

  • National training strategies to retrain workers losing jobs

  • Singapore Sectoral Manpower Plans for long-term planning and retraining