New Zealanders are being asked to share their views on whether technological changes will cost jobs or create them as the Government looks to formulate a policy on the future of work.

The Productivity Commission has published an issues paper which explores the possible impacts of new technology on the labour market.

It has been tasked with producing a full report by March 2020.

"While technological change brings significant overall benefits, it also creates frictions and costs for particular groups in society," the issues paper notes.


"Sustained economic growth requires innovation, and innovation cannot be decoupled from creative destruction."

"This 'replacement of the old' involves the devaluation of prior investments in machinery and skills, leaving the owners of older equipment and workers who used it worse off. For some, these costs can be severe."

However on the positive side the paper acknowledges significant job creation due to new technology.

For example, since 1999, the number of jobs classified as 'Computer systems design and related services' has increased from 8700 to 32,600, it notes.

The paper includes four scenarios for consideration: the positive and negative view on job creation versus destruction, a scenario where there is a stagnation of technological change and scenario where the pace of technological change is stable with little impact on the labour market.

It looks at areas like the growth of the "gig economy" (ie Uber style contract for services employment) and the adequacy of legal protections for workers if it becomes more prevalent.

That also includes issues like legislated minimum wages.

"A longstanding view in economics was that minimum wages reduced aggregate employment, especially for younger and lower-skilled workers," the issues paper notes.


"However, more recent research has challenged some of these conclusions, with several studies finding little to no impact on overall employment."

But there are now new concerns that minimum wage increases might encourage firms to automate lower-skill jobs at a faster rate.

The paper notes that need to align education policy with technological change with even traditionally low skilled jobs requiring digital skills.

For example the dairy farming industry strategy 2017–2025 noted that technology now features just as much as manual labour in modern dairy farming.

The Commission is seeking submissions on the questions contained in this paper by
5 June 2019.

It will produce it final report to the Government by March 31 2020.

Click hear to read the full report