What are the megatrends that will shake up the way we work in New Zealand?

A new report by research group Infometrics has highlighted three big economic trends, three demographic trends and the education trends that we need to embrace to cope.

Economic trends

Automation revolution:

"We estimate that 31 per cent of New Zealand's jobs are at a high risk of automation over the next 20 years," Infometrics' chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan says.


An estimated 44 per cent of people in lower-skilled occupations are at high risk of
having their job automated over the next 20 years, compared to about
11 per cent of people in highly skilled roles.

Provincial and rural economies are most at-risk.

"Resisting the trend towards greater automation will be futile and, outside of infrastructure provision, the government probably has minimal influence on where new jobs will be created," Kiernan says. "The area that the government has the biggest role to play is in helping workers retrain and upskill to be able to prosper in the changing workforce."

The rise of China:

Since the FTA (free rtade agreement)came into force in late 2008, the share of New Zealand's exports heading to China has lifted from less than 6 per cent to 23 per cent, says report author Gareth Kiernan. "China's progress towards "developed" status and the sheer weight of its population mean that it will continue to be one of the biggest economic powers in the world.

Government gets hands on:

"There is a growing feeling that the free market approach of the last 30 years has not always produced the outcomes society might have wanted," Kiernan says. "We anticipate a shift towards increased government intervention to regulate business behaviour and push against the threat of mounting inequality."

"This trend is likely to last beyond the current Government's term."


Demographic trends

Multicultural workforce:

"The labour force is becoming more globalised, with increased international migration flows a reflection of the wider and more diverse pool of workers available to businesses," Kiernan says.

"Current occupational preferences mean that some industries are struggling to tap into the rapidly growing group of Asian workers. The under-representation of Māori and Pasifika in more highly skilled and high-paying jobs also risks exacerbating
the socioeconomic divide that already exists in New Zealand."

Ageing workforce:

"There is a growing appetite from people aged over 65 to continue working, with most of these people choosing to do so for social and lifestyle reasons."

Between 1999 and 2042, the number of people in this age bracket will have trebled. Put another way, the proportion of the total population aged 65 or over has lifted from 11.7 per cent to 15.2 per cent since the turn of the millennium, and will climb to over 23 per cent by 2042.

Golden triangle:

"The upper North Island is commanding an increasingly dominant role in terms of New Zealand's population, economic activity and fiscal and voting base," Kiernan says.

Statistics NZ's projections show that the combined population of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga is expected to lift from 40 per cent to 45 per cent of the country's population by 2043.

Educational challenge

Going online:

There will be a shift towards education and training becoming more online-based.
"We expect to see pressure for lower-cost structures, as well as a greater need for institutions to focus on their strengths," Kiernan says.

Bite-sized learning:

There needs to be a breakdown of qualifications into smaller chunks to fit
with a model of lifelong learning - taking an approach to training and education that is more focused on skills and structured around smaller courses.

Tertiary collaboration:

Continuing with a competitive volume-based model appears to be unsustainable, Kiernan says.

"Greater focus needs to be given to skills and labour-market outcomes in the context of the rapid technological changes that are already underway. A more strategically planned collaborative approach across the education sector could help improve the pay-offs for students."