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Resilience for the future of work

Inquiry Director, Productivity Commission
2 June 2020

As the metaphorical ink was drying on the Commission’s technological change and the future of work final report, the world had changed. We had, as Dave said, our analysis gazumped from an unexpected quarter.

Nevertheless, building the resilience of workers and the wider economy to shocks is important regardless of whether the shock comes from new technology or from COVID-19.

Our inquiry made several recommendations that would build resilience.

We recommended making it easier for people to retrain by allowing people taking short courses to access a student loan, and extending the funding to tertiary providers for adult students who want to study but not for a full qualification.

We also warned against moves to tightly regulate ‘gig work’. We argued that abuse at work is not specific to digital platforms and can occur in traditional work arrangements, so law should target the harm not the platform. When unemployment looms, gig work can provide an opportunity to ease financial pressures and tide things over until more permanent work comes along.

We also recommended the Government consider policies that would better help smooth people’s incomes if they became unemployed.

This week the Government announced that it is looking into the possibility of a permanent unemployment insurance scheme in New Zealand. There is a lot that will need to be worked through in designing such a scheme, but perhaps the biggest will be deciding how much replacement income the scheme should be set up to deliver. There is no definitive answer to the question of what the optimal replacement rate is, and different countries provide different levels of support and for different periods.

There are other design considerations too. It will be important to design the scheme to be neutral towards work arrangements, to recognise the diversity of work arrangements that already exist in New Zealand, including platform mediated work. 

There is much that can be done to further build resilience and prepare New Zealanders for future economic shocks.

It will be important to consider longer-term, structural issues that can drive economic and social success including the use of more technology. The Commission will be looking at the contribution of our leading firms, in its Frontier firms inquiry.

However, policy settings such as the careful design of an income smoothing scheme, along with good employment law and a responsive tertiary education system, will also be needed to build resilience for the future of work.

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  • Gravatar for Geoff Waterhouse

    Geoff Waterhouse 5 Jun 2020, 13:37 (4 months ago)

    Good morning, well, it's afternoon now!
    I signed up for this under the no doubt naive belief that because it is “a blog,” input from “the great unwashed” might be welcome, but probably not as it turned out.
    I read your piece this morning and decided to comment, I still may be the first and it will be inetersting to see what, if anything, transpires from it, e.g. if it even gets read and if any kind of response follows.
    The word “resilience” seems to be a popular “buzz word” these days and gets bandied about quite a lot. I see it 4 times in your piece alone. I decided to have a look for a definition of “resilience” and thought that this one “Resilience is typically defined as the capacity to recover from difficult life events. “ would do.
    1)This “We recommended making it easier for people to retrain by allowing people taking short courses to access a student loan, and extending the funding to tertiary providers for adult students who want to study but not for a full qualification. “ can be summed up in 2 words, “more debt.” 2) I “clicked” on this “help smooth people’s incomes if they became unemployed.” but the prospect of wading through a 116 page rport was just too daunting. I would hazard a guess that “more debt” would be required for this idea. 3) I then read this “This week the Government announced that it is looking into the possibility of a permanent unemployment insurance scheme in New Zealand. There is a lot that will need to be worked through in designing such a scheme,“ The article was quite amazing, typical “government knee jerk reaction” and how Robertson can keep a straight face, and not have his nose grow longer, trying to justify a CON virus benefit and a non CON virus is quite mind boggling. You say “There is a lot that will need to be worked through in designing such a scheme, but perhaps the biggest will be deciding how much replacement income the scheme should be set up to deliver. “ THE biggest thing will be “where does the money come from?” Yet more debt. It's like the bank deposit guarantee scam, sorry, scheme, that is “supposed” to be forthcoming.
    4)You say “There is much that can be done to further build resilience and prepare New Zealanders for future economic shocks.” I totally agree with you on that but I would also bet my US$200.00 cowboy boots that practical, low cost ideas from “WE the PEOPLE” would not see the light of day at your level of rarified atmosphere. I belong to Transition Towns Bay of Islands file:///C:/Users/Laptop/Documents/DRAFT%20TT%20Resilience%20Plan%20(1).pdf and we have our own ideas contained in this “Community Action for Resilience Discussion Document Alternate Local Economics Sunday Zooms During Lockdown” for which we don't need 116 page reports. Fortunately,we also don't need politicians and a pile of new debt to embark on our projects which will benefit our communities. Our projects will not only be resilient, they will also be sustainable and local.
    A couple of years ago I read about the “Auckland Circular Economy” https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/103721466/circular-economy-could-bring-8b-in-benefits-to-auckland “The circular economy opportunity report by Sustainable Business Network (SBN) “ said absolutely nothing about “local community complemetary alternative currency.” I did toy with idea of contacting them, but felt that they would be in the same rarified/ivory tower location that you probably are.
    Way back in 2014, just prior to the election, one Oliver Hartwich from the https://nzinitiative.org.nz/ came to Kaikohe and one thing that he was scheduled to speak about was “local funding' for local government.” Again, showing our naivete a friend and I thought he might be talking about local currency so, off we went to hear what he had to say. What a waste of time! He told us all about the cantons in Switerland and what they WERE doing and what we SHOULD be doing, but can't. I then asked a question about local currency. I will never forget his reply, “OH, I hadn't thought of that, it seems a little extreme!” It was at that point that we switched off.
    So, in summary. All your ideas will simply incur more debt. You say nothing about local currencies and their value to local communities. I can understand your reasons for that. In case you don't know about local currencies, here are links to a few arleady in New Zealand (1)https://wais.org.nz/ (2)https://loaves.org.nz/about and (3)https://www.community-exchange.org/docs/hands.htm Now, here are a couple of videos The French one is really good and especially the bit about the Basque currency https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sapa2UQrhIQ the second one is about the Brixton Pound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sapa2UQrhIQ It is quite old but very good.
    Well, that is my sixpennyworth, for what it's worth. Based on past experience over many years with NGOs and politicians, I don't expect much, if anything, by way of positive interest from you or your organisation, but I always hope that I may be proved wrong one day.

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  • Gravatar for Roger Tweedy

    Roger Tweedy 4 Jun 2020, 21:27 (4 months ago)

    Totally agree that 'gig work' is not all bad & for many (myself included) it is both freeing & productive. Other regulation is a bad move with support & recognition the better alternative

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