Nearly half the jobs available today won't be around in two decades time, Labour leader Andrew Little says.
Mr Little was guest speaker at an Electra business breakfast at Southward Car Museum on Wednesday last week where he talked about some of the challenges facing the country as well as some of the things his party intended to do if elected next year.
Looking to the future, one of the big issues was addressing the changing nature of work due to more automation and greater use of technology.
"Forty-six per cent of jobs that are in existence today won't be around in 20 years time," he said.
"The reality is the level of skill people will need to compete in the world of work in the future is going to be much greater than it is now."
His party pledged three years' free post school educational training, which wasn't confined to places like universities or polytechnics.
"It's for any form of post school educational training."
Dipping into sovereign wealth funds such as ACC and the NZ Super Fund [with about $50 billion between them] could help entrepreneurs as well as businesses ready to expand.
"How about just a very small slice of that is used to invest in new businesses and expanding businesses in New Zealand and start to regenerate there?"
Another commitment was helping those going into apprenticeships and assisting employers taking on apprentices.
"Let's pay the equivalent of the dole to businesses taking on an apprentice."
From chatting to various people around the country, he said there was a sense of a "growing insecurity".
"For some people, no matter how hard they work, or how hard their adult children work, they can't get ahead. Things which we once took for granted, like owning your own home, are getting harder and harder."
The country now had the lowest level of home ownership since 1951.
Twenty years ago, 50 per cent of the age bracket of between 20 and 40 years old owned their own home. Today it's 20 per cent.
"Some of that has to do with student loans, or putting decisions off, but it's also to do with the fact incomes simply have not kept pace with the skyrocketing price of houses.
"It's putting home ownership out of reach of more and more people."
One of the big challenges ahead was when a new generation entered retirement "who don't own their own home and don't have a prospect of doing so".
Mr Little said the economy was slowing "quite significantly".
Historically the country had been propped up by reasonably significant immigration but the level of immigration now was putting real pressure, particularly on Auckland, which meant the country wasn't keeping pace with the need for things like housing and infrastructure.
"Per capita, in New Zealand, we're actually getting poorer."
The level of economic growth wasn't enough which meant "we're starting to see things like funding for our hospitals being cut in real terms," he said.
"The bottom line is we have to do better at backing Kiwis in New Zealand.
"We need to make sure they have those foundation skills but also those foundation opportunities to get ahead. We have to make home ownership a reality again."
His ambition was for people to sense that if they worked hard they could get ahead and be treated fairly "because I think that is the New Zealand way".
"What people want to know most is that they get a fair crack."