Technological change and the future of work


The Government has asked the Commission to examine how New Zealand can maximise the opportunities and manage the risks of disruptive technological change and its impact on the future of work and the workforce.

The Commission has released a draft report New Zealand, technology and productivity. We welcome your comments and feedback on this and further draft reports via a submission. 

Technological change and the future of work

Technology and productivity in New Zealand

Our first draft report New Zealand, technology and productivity looks at the factors affecting technology adoption and how technological adoption affects the labour market. It also examines how technology affected work in the past, including in New Zealand. We found that:

  • There is little evidence in the available data that widespread disruption to work is coming soon.
  • The likely pace and scale of technological change in New Zealand will depend to a significant extent on developments overseas.
  • Technology and labour-market trends in New Zealand tend to lag behind those overseas, and will be more muted, if recent history is anything to go by.
  • The main problem facing New Zealand today isn’t too much technology, it’s not enough. New Zealand needs to embrace technology, not treat it as a threat.

Find out more, read the draft report and briefing here:

Series of draft reports

The first draft report New Zealand, technology and productivity sets the scene for the inquiry. The Commission will provide further analysis and advice in three upcoming draft reports: Employment, labour markets and income will be released in November, Education and skills in November and Preparing New Zealand for the future in December.

Have your say

The Commission invites your comments, feedback or relevant evidence on the draft reports. We welcome separate submissions on each report, submissions on themes from multiple reports, or a single submission that covers all four reports. Please pick the format and approach that suits you. Submissions can be made via our website and are due by 7 February 2020.

FutureworkNZ blog

BlogWhat does the future hold for job quality and the gender pay gap? What should we do with the multitude of tech forecasts?

The Commission has a blog for this inquiry: FutureworkNZ blogEach week members of our inquiry team are posting their views, so find out what they think, read the latest blog posts here. We welcome your comments and guest posts.

New research: The impacts of job displacement on workers by education level

This research for the Productivity Commission extends previous research by Hyslop and Townsend (2017; 2019) and analyses the longer term impacts of involuntary job-loss on workers’ labour market outcomes by education level. It uses data from the Survey of Family, Income and Employment to identify job displacements over the period 2001–10, matched to administrative data from Stats NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure  covering the period 1999–2015, providing at least five years of post-displacement observations.

The results suggest that displaced workers with degree-level education experience larger adverse short-term employment effects, smaller medium to longer term employment effects, but larger and enduring earnings losses, than other displaced workers. The patterns are consistent with various hypotheses, including that, after a period of unsuccessful job search, degree-level educated workers may accept either lower skilled jobs or jobs with worse skill match. Alternatively, they may experience greater loss of either firm or industry-specific human capital, or lose substantial earnings premiums when displaced, that are difficult to replace. Read the report:

Micro-credentials roundtable

Micro-credentials are a new mechanism to enable upskilling as well as recognition of existing competencies. We hosted a roundtable to delve further into the current status of, and potential future for, micro-credentials in New Zealand.

The roundtable brought together a variety of views from industry, the tertiary sector, training institutes and the public sector. The insights will form part of our upcoming report on education and skills. Find out about the key themes of the roundtable discussion by reading the following summary.