The Labour Party's economic development spokesman says the party's Future of Work project has particular relevance for Whanganui simply because it provides specific support where it's needed.

Grant Robertson chairs the Future of Work Commission which his party launched last year, and was in the city this weekend when Whanganui hosted the party's Region 3 conference at the Grand Hotel.

The region covers the central North Island and more than 100 delegates attended.
Party leader Andrew Little was there along with deputy Annette King, Grant Robertson, Jacinda Ardern, Iain Lees-Galloway, Stuart Nash, Meka Whaitiri and Adrian Rurawhe.

Mr Robertson told the Chronicle he had been carrying the Future of Work message to all the regional conferences and the one here was the fifth of six.


He said the Future of Work was a two-year project, with a goal to look further ahead and discuss what the world of work was going to look like in 10 to 20 years time and what was needed to be prepared for that.

"It's about taking the values of what lies behind the Labour Party and putting them into the 21st century. The work landscape is changing rapidly with new technology moving at enormous speed."

He said the NZ Institute of Economic Research calculated around 46 per cent of jobs that are currently in the NZ economy won't be there in 15 years' time.

"It's not just automated jobs. It's also affecting professions like accountancy where software packages mean those jobs are changing as well." He said a key to the changes the Future in Work looks at is making sure there were opportunities across New Zealand and in places like Whanganui.

"This is a great city and it has quality housing but if there aren't job opportunities for people to come to then they're not going to come.

"The Future of Work looks closely at creating business clusters and if the local council or a business venture has an idea then a Labour Government would support them, be that with tax breaks or additional investment." He said the risk of a broad study such as the Manawatu-Whanganui regional growth strategy was that it did not necessarily have a focus on Whanganui.

"I'm not convinced these growth strategies on a broader scale are doing anything more than collating a series of ideas rather than being specific to Whanganui. A partnership between central and local government and an industry can build something up. Our goal is to make sure we build those opportunities in places like Whanganui."