Newshub Nation today – education announcement, future of work, Auckland homeless

On Newshub Nation today  9:30 am (and tomorrow at 10:00 am):

600 more teachers to support children with additional learning needs

 

The future of work and the ‘fourth industrial revolution’

Auckland homeless (that Labour said they would sort out)

Roberston’s Future of Work report

Today  Grant Robertson released the on the findings of Labour’s two year Future of Work commission.

A plan for the future

Everyone knows that the world of work is changing. Technology is developing at a pace faster than ever before, and many of the jobs and roles we know today simply won’t exist in a decade. 

At the same time, technology is also making it easier than ever to start a business and connect with people all over the world. There is enormous opportunity, but also significant risk that this change could lead to higher unemployment, greater insecurity and inequality.

It was with this in mind that the Labour Party launched the Future of Work Commission in 2014. For two years, we’ve been getting out and listening to New Zealanders about their hopes and fears. And today we are releasing our report with more than 60 recommendations on how we can confidently face the changing world and ensure decent, secure and well-paid work.

This does not mean that we can predict the future. Rather, it’s about preparing ourselves to be resilient and adaptable as times change. We don’t want to be the passive recipients of this change; we want to shape the future in accordance with our values. Decent wages, respect, dignity and safety at work — wherever that is undertaken.

The core recommendations in our report are to support training and education throughout life. That is why we are proposing three years free post-secondary school training and education. It is also why we will have professional career guidance and planning for every student. We also believe that every worker who loses their job as a result of technological change and disruption should be supported to retrain. We need a just transition — no one should be left behind.

We also need to be ready to take the opportunities that are offered for people to take control of their own economic destiny. The era of ‘trickle down economics’ is over. We are proposing that we focus on building wealth from the ground up. We are recommending more support for entrepreneurs, stronger collective bargaining, digital equality and investing in our regions and in research and development.

If we retain the values that have guided us for one hundred years, we can make the policy choices for the 21st century to invest in people, and we will rise to the challenge to give New Zealanders security and opportunity in the future of work.

Read the full report here >>

Robertson gave a speech on the findings at Labour’s conference. Here is the speech with the political bits lopped off the top.


…what I want to talk to you about today is one of the most ambitious projects that the Labour Party has undertaken in recent memory.

A project that is about what really matters in our economy. Decent work that gives security and opportunity, and a fair share for all in prosperity.

It is of course, The Future of Work Commission. And today we will launch the final report after two years, dozens of public meetings, hundreds of submissions and thousands of people telling us what work means to them.

At the outset I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the project, including many of you. I particularly want to acknowledge a willing group of MPs who you see here today who gamely took on leading our work across six workstreams. I want to thank them for their hard work and for only needing a gentle amount of nagging and a few minor tantrums to come up with your chapters.

I also want to make a special acknowledgement of the best researcher you will ever find. A man who carefully planned his wedding around milestones in the project. Rob Carr, you are an absolute treasure.

We quickly found willing partners outside the Party. We intentionally sought advice and guidance from a wide group of New Zealanders. Our External Reference Group of business, union and community leaders provided fantastic input. I want to note that Helen Kelly was initially on the group, and in mourning her passing I would like to think she would be pleased to see us at this milestone.

We are proud of this report, and we think that the 63 recommendations that are contained in it map a path that re-asserts in our centenary year the importance of our Party’s core values.

100 years on Labour is still the party of work and the party of workers.

So, what have we learned in this project. Well, a lot can happen in two years. When we started this project the world was a different place. The UK was staying in the EU, the idea of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate was a script for a bad reality TV show, Jeremy Corbyn was a UK Labour backbencher about to defy the Party Whip for the 489th time; and Australia was the number two ranked rugby team in the world.

So, we learned that a lot can change in a short time.

We may not be able to say with total precision what is going to happen in the future, but in Labour we are not prepared to stand by and simply let the market forces decide.

Our best approach is to prepare ourselves to be in a position to shape the future on the basis of our values and the outcomes we desire.

The pace of change in the world of work is undoubted. The uptake of technology in the digital age is at a pace estimated by McKinsey’s to be ten times that of the industrial revolution at three hundred times the scale.

The impact of artificial intelligence, 3D printing, sensors, algorithms, and robots has only scratched the surface of what is possible.

Higher levels of unemployment from rapid automation, and less full time stable work seem likely.

Along with technology, the other key factor driving change is globalisation. The movement of people around the world in search of work and security is unprecedented.

The movement of capital is similarly expansive. The combination of the two has seen the opening of markets and opportunities, but also the destruction and hollowing out of industries and jobs.

The fundamental premise of our Commission is that the Future of Work is not predestined, and it can be guided by our policies and our priorities.

Three major themes have emerged from our work.

The value of decent work

Throughout the Commission the importance that New Zealanders place on work has been reinforced. Decent incomes matter of course. In addition we need to recognise the importance of non-income benefits.There is a sense of dignity in work, and a desire for work that is fulfilling and part of doing good. This is what people value about their work – the skills they gain, the relationships they develop, the recognition they receive, and the autonomy that they are accorded. Decent work needs to include all of these.

We met a lot of people during the work of the Commission like Tiso Panapa. Tiso spoke at our Wellington seminar. He is a security guard at Work and Income. He’s paid not much more than the minimum wage, he does not have guaranteed hours. He struggles to look after his family. An unexpected bill could blow his finances apart. Tiso and his family deserve better – a higher minimum wage, actually a living wage and secure work.

We believe we must underpin all future working arrangements with the same set of values and principles regardless of their nature.

Let me be clear, strong and effective unions will, as they have in the past, play a critical role in making this happen.

Risk of growing inequality

The last two years have been marked by increased attention to the impact of inequality on our societies and our economy.

New Zealand is now the most unequal society it has ever been. Wealth has concentrated in the hands of a small group. This is wrong. It is unfair and it is not the New Zealand that Labour or any government I am part of will let continue.

Even the IMF and the World Bank are seeing that inequality is a drag on the economy!

The future of work runs the risk of increasing this inequality. As automation takes hold, there has been a hollowing-out of those ‘in the middle’ whose jobs have been associated with clerical or easily automated tasks.

Many of those in low-skill jobs have suffered the same fate with poor work conditions, low wages and high levels of insecurity.

At the same time, those with in-demand technical skills, and at management level have seen large pay increases. In New Zealand, the average chief executive salary has increased by 12% in the last year, compared with around 3% for average workers.

The lesson of this project is that the flawed logic of ‘trickledown’ economics has been fully exposed. What is now needed is a new approach that takes the opportunity offered by the changing nature of work to develop a new economic paradigm that values building wealth from the ground up.

Balance between flexibility and security

The third major theme to have emerged is the balance between flexibility and security.

The changing patterns of work, driven by technology, are already apparent. From large workplaces adopting open-plan, ‘hot desk’ environments to flexi-time arrangements, few people would recognise their workplace from even a decade ago.

Many more New Zealanders are self-employed, managing a portfolio of work that is built around their lives.

Young people in particular, talked to us not so much about the jobs that they would do in the future, but rather the work that they would create.

Early on in the project two young first year university students who had received a prize from me in their last year at secondary school visited to tell me about their holiday plans. These consisted of establishing a fully fledged design company, with clients and business cards. And you know what. They did it. They saw no boundaries or limits to what they could do in the future of work.

We have met many people, young and old, who are seeing enormous opportunity through social entrepreneurship, shared value creation and less hierarchical business models to create decent work.

The Commission is recommending that a future government support these new models of work. At the same time we must ensure that there is a balance between supporting the innovation that comes from flexibility with the right to secure and fair conditions of employment.

After two years of work, I can say that predicting whether a particular industry or job will exist or what will replace it is fruitless.

What the Commission has done is map a path that gives New Zealanders the confidence to face and lead the change.

We need to be inclusive, offering opportunity and harnessing the talents of all.

We need to be resilient to deal with the changes and shocks that are coming our way.

And we need to adapt to be able to lead the change and shape it in line with our values of fairness, sustainability and innovation.

The Future of Work Commission is proposing a new social partnership between business, government and workers that places decent work and a good standard of living for all people as our priority.

There is not time today to go into detail of all the recommendations, but they come under five broad headings.

We owe it to all those affected by the rapid change in the world of work to support a just transition.

We are proposing active labour-market policies not seen before in New Zealand.

We believe that every person who has their work disrupted or eliminated in the changing world of work needs to be supported to be trained and re-trained.

The absence of skilled workers was the number one issue that the business community raised with the Commission. We can’t rely on the market to provide, or immigration alone, to import our solutions.

We want this to be delivered through a partnership of government, business and unions to identify training needs early, and deliver on those continually, to support people into new and meaningful work.

Our specific proposal is that the government will initially fund up to six weeks of free full time training per year to workers who lose their job or have it fundamentally disrupted by technological change. This is of course in addition to the entitlement to three years free post school education and training that we have already announced.

Over time we would like to see this develop as it has in countries such as Denmark to be available across the workforce, and for it to be funded in partnership with business.

We are recommending that consideration be given to specific skill training levies in industries where businesses are not stepping up to train the next generation of workers.

Equally, for a just transition in a world where full-time paid work may become less certain, we will need to think again about income security. Part of this is in short-term income support measures, and a genuine commitment to lift minimum wages and support a living wage.

We are also recommending recognising unpaid and voluntary work as fulfilling work obligations, and further consideration of basic income provision.

The phrase just transition is of course borrowed from the environmental movement. Climate change and its global impact was ever-present in the work of the Commission.

In our report we are calling for decent work that supports our move to a low-carbon economy. We will support a just transition for those communities and workers who find their livelihoods under threat. We are backing an Independent Climate Commission to drive the shift to a low carbon economy that still delivers high wage work.

The Future of Work must also be one where we address the unjust aspects of the world of work that already exist.

Labour needs to be the party that says once and for all that we will not stand for a world where women are not valued equally to men in the world of work.

In this project we have also tried to ensure that we have responded to the calls we have heard.

One of the loudest is for the abolition of secondary tax. For people, especially younger low paid workers, two or three jobs are essential to make ends meet. It is within our power, and it is our recommendation, to get rid of this relic of a past era.

Learning for life

We live in a world where the notion of completing your training and educational journey at the end of high school is wholly inadequate.

That is why the first major policy announcement from the Future of Work Commission was for three years of free post-secondary school training and education. This is a clear statement that we want all New Zealanders to build their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. As part of this we must value far more non-university training and education, through greater support for trade training and apprenticeships.

We are recommending a focus on developing the attributes young people need in a changing world – creativity, collaboration, connectedness. We recognise the importance of science and technology, but these are only part of the picture. We need to invest in humanities, the arts and design too.

We are proposing changes in the focus of our education system to unlock the potential of every student. We need to focus less on rigid standards and assessment processes and more on the individual interests and learning needs.

This includes a strong partnership between schools, businesses and the community to support every student to have a plan for their career, for careers guidance to be an integral part of their educational experience, and for programmes that mix school and work-based learning to be available.

We are recommending the adoption of a school leavers toolkit that includes digital and financial literacy, a drivers license and the skills to be a good citizen.

We need to provide the maximum range of opportunities for training and skill development beyond school. The importance of appropriate and targeted opportunities for Māori and Pasifika communities to do this has been recognised and accepted by the Commission.

Building wealth from the ground up

The opportunity exists in the Future of Work for working people to have greater control over their economic destiny.

We need only look to the UK and the United States to see the sense of alienation felt by those who have not benefited from globalisation. This is a driving force of political change, division and instability worldwide. If New Zealand is to avoid falling victim to these forces, we need to an economy that gives everyone a stake in our success.

A core plank of this has to be a new employment relations framework that is focused on strengthening collective bargaining and enabling effective unionisation. We need to expand the rights of contractors to ensure those who would otherwise be an employee still have the right to be paid a minimum wage, join a union and participate in collective bargaining.

We are recommending a greater sense of ‘workplace democracy’. In our project this was exemplified by Air New Zealand and E Tū and other unions in their High Performance Engagement process. HPE is built around teams made up of equal number of management and workers solving problems and making plans by consensus. Once an organisation that was riven with industrial dispute, HPE is contributing to Air New Zealand being a more productive, inclusive working environment with better pay and conditions. We want to support other workplaces across New Zealand to adopt new models of workforce engagement.

New Zealand is already a nation where small and medium businesses dominate our landscape. It is also a place where innovation has thrived in our garages and workshops. We must now take the opportunity to develop this further.

We are proposing to remove the barriers to growing these types of work whether they are poor regulations, skill deficits, or a lack of capital.

There is a generation of socially minded entrepreneurs and creators of value who will make New Zealand proud if we are prepared to support them. That is why we have already announced a Young Entrepreneurs Programme to give 100 young New Zealanders the opportunity to develop their smart and innovative ideas.

We want to support every New Zealander to have opportunity in the future of work. That’s why we are proposing a goal of digital equality across all divides by 2020.

No matter where you live or what your background is, we must ensure that all our people have access to technology and the ability to understand how it can act as a tool to create better lives.

Our young Māori and Pasifika communities should be at the forefront of growing our prosperity. The message received by the Commission from these communities is that a heavy investment in education, and a partnership to support indigenous and grassroots economic development is essential to harnessing these opportunities. We accept that challenge and the desire for a partnership to make it happen.

An active and capable state

Just as the clock has turned on the failed notion of ‘trickledown economics’ so it has on the idea of a hands-off state being able to deliver a prosperous and decent future of work. Leadership and innovation in government are core requirements to a successful transition to the future of work.

The government as an active partner in economic development is essential. Throughout our project we have heard that communities and regions can see potential for their residents to live good and fulfilling lives. They are not looking to be told what to do by central government, but they do want to know that we are all in this together.

The government must use the levers it has to partner in every region in New Zealand to support sustainable and decent work. In this report, we propose business clusters as an example of how this can happen. In general, we see the need for strong regional development projects and investment in our infrastructure around New Zealand.

Similarly in all of the interactions between state and citizens we need to be looking to develop the social partnership further. For example, we are recommending culture change at Work and Income so that it is not just be a processing and transacting agency for beneficiaries, but a central point in supporting people to train, work and thrive.

Inventing the future

Our productivity and prosperity as a nation requires us to not just accept the change, but to get in front of it. To support the aspiration of future generations we need to substantially lift our game in science, research and innovation.

You know every time we held a Future of Work Conference Simon Bridges put out a release about a pizza delivery robot or drone. That is not good enough. We must not simply be just the test-bed for others’ ideas and inventions, but be the designers and inventors.

We are proposing that ICT become our second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.

We are going to reform government procurement to give Kiwi firms a fair go. No more Hillside Workshop closures.

We are recommending a sustained and significant lift in our investment in research and development in the public and private sector if we are to lift productivity. This will include an investment in basic science, research, better collaboration between government and private sector, and a shared vision for how to harness all of that to create decent work.

Delegates, this is a big agenda. It can not all be implemented at once. It requires a long term view. At our conference last year I quoted the words of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, when he said his country was faced with a choice between the fears and the habits of the past and the demands and opportunities of the future. Through the Commission, we have laid out the framework that embraces the demands and opportunities of the future of work.

I urge you to read our report. There are some copies available today- and you can find it on our website. Share it with your friends and family. You will not find any other political party that is stepping up to the challenge of plotting a path through this rapidly changing world. It is our historic mission – to build a better and fairer New Zealand. We will do that by investing in people and giving them the confidence to face the changing world.

There is reason to be optimistic about New Zealand’s future and the future of work generally.

If we are prepared to make clear and positive policy choices.

If we are prepared to renew a social partnership.

If we support a business sector that is innovative and inclusive.

And if we give workers a stake in their future and the opportunity to build wealth from the ground up.

One hundred years on from the women and men who banded together to give political voice to the hopes and aspirations of working people, through this Future of Work Commission we are re-asserting Labour as the party that has the vision for decent work that gives New Zealanders a sense of purpose and a chance to shape a prosperous future for them and their families.

Is Labour relevant today?

The Standard has marked Labour Weekend (I presume) with a post oddly under the authorship of ‘Natwatch’ (which seems to be a pseudonym for someone not wanting to be identified as being a union official) .

Workers, unions and the Labour party

Convincing workers not to organise in their own best interests is one of the great successes of right-wing politics.

I have not needed convincing. I have never seen any need to belong to a union, although for short periods last century I was a compulsory member, the only sign of which was a deduction from my pay packet.

Yes, the undermining of the unions was a deliberate act, part of the neoliberal gutting of NZ. The political right hate unions because they protect working conditions, and raise wages – even today.

Part of union bashing, of course, is bashing the party that represents workers. Here’s a fine specimen – Look, there goes the Labour Party – sliding towards oblivion. Wilson basis his rant on Labour “faultlines” over Auckland – do National Party faultlines prove the same?. He then bizarrely concludes –

Actually, there is a point to Labour and it’s a really important one. They’re there to win elections. Labour is the main party of opposition and therefore is likely to be the majority party in any centre-left government. So they have to look credible. They have to be credible.

If they’re not, the whole centre-left suffers. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led government. Votes for NZ First and the Maori Party are also votes for the possibility of such a government.

Not bad for a party supposedly “sliding to oblivion” you might think. Labour’s Future of Work planning is essential, Labour is leading the way on housing and poverty, Labour will work with The Greens on climate change – while National drags its heals on all of these issues (A surplus of cash and a deficit of concern for people). Like unions, the Labour Party is needed today more than ever.

There is still a need for unions – for the minority of workers who choose to belong to a workers’ collective.  The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions represents about 360,000 according to Wikipedia, but the CTU website says:

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi brings together over 320,000 New Zealand union members in 31 affiliated unions. We are the united voice for working people and their families in New Zealand.

So it looks like the union numbers continue to shrink.

Some of the unions are affiliated to the Labour Party, and for the last few years have attained a pivotal role in choosing the party leader.

Current leader Andrew Little got the lowest vote from Caucus of the four candidates, and was well behind Grant Robertson in the members’ vote, but just won the leadership position due to a high union affiliate vote.

Little has a union background, but as a lawyer so he is not exactly a coal face working man.

Most of the other Labour MPs appear to have academic qualifications.

The Labour spokesperson for Workplace Relations and Safety is Iain Lees-Galloway. Prior to becoming an MP he worked as an organiser for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, which is more of a professional organisation than the traditional workers’ unions. Lees-Galloway is ranked 14th in Labour’s pecking order so Workplace Relations doesn’t seem to be a high priority in the party.

Associate Workplace Relations and Safety Spokesperson is Sue Moroney, ranked 16. According to Wikipedia she has held a number of union positions.

From Wikipedia:

The New Zealand Labour Party was established on 7 July 1916 in Wellington, bringing together socialist groups advocating proportional representation and “the Recall” of Members of Parliament, as well as the nationalisation of production and of exchange. Its origins lie in the British working class movement, heavily influenced by Australian radicalism and events such as the Waihi miners’ strike.

Although Labour had split with its more militant faction, (who went on to form various socialist parties) it maintained what were at the time radical socialist policies. Labour’s ‘Usehold’ policy on land was in essence the replacement of freehold tenure by a system of perpetual lease from the State, with all land transfer conducted through the State(the full nationalisation of farmland). This policy was unpopular with voters and was dropped by Labour, along with other more radical policies, throughout the 1920s.

Andrew Little:

Leading the union and working alongside some of New Zealand’s biggest companies I saw first hand the kind of economy we need – about what we need to do to create and save the jobs that families rely on for their financial security.

These experiences taught me that our economy isn’t just about numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s about New Zealanders and their families and whether people have opportunity and are able to get ahead.

New Zealand was becoming increasingly weighted in favour of those already doing well, while throwing up barriers that stopped other people get ahead.

As a nation, we weren’t doing the kind of things we needed to do to generate new wealth, and so ordinary Kiwis found themselves fighting over a smaller and smaller share of a shrinking economy. I made the decision then that if I wanted to help turn all that around, I was going to run for Parliament.

So Little’s Labour visions are quite different to the aims of the party when it was set up a century ago.

Modern elections are fought largely over perceived competence in managing the country’s economy, so Labour competes with National on this basis. The tow main parties seem largely to be proposing similar outcomes with variations to their aims on how to achieve those outcomes.

Labour is barely recognisable today as a socialist working man’s party, but modern New Zealand is far different as well. There are far fewer labourers, and far more women in the workforce.

Labour’s relevance now has to be reinvented if they are to distinguish themselves from National. They are trying to do that with their ‘Future of Work’ project.

We’re looking to the future too. We are one of the only parties in the world doing serious thinking about the future of work – about where jobs are going to come from in 20 and 30 and 40 years’ time and how we ensure that Kiwis aren’t left out or left behind as the world changes.

This could be an important project, albeit difficult to predict given the technological and societal changes over the last 20, 30 and 40 years.

But is it too forward thinking to be relevant to most working people next year when we have our next election?

Labour lost it’s way over and has muddled through the last decade.

The party can reinvent itself and become relevant to today’s voters, but it is not yet apparent how, beyond offering a chance to Greens to get their first chance to be a part of a government.

One thing they will have to do to become relevant as a serious contender is to ditch the ‘if you criticise us you’re a right winger’ mentality.

Ten big ideas

Labour’s Future of Work – Ten Big Ideas:

  1. Digital equality so access to technology is assured.
    Building digital equality – through ensuring Kiwis can access technology regardless of where they live or how wealthy they are.
  2. Tech in business to accelerate technology use in the economy.
    Accelerating technology in business – through developing new models of capital raising and investing in research and development.
  3. Business clusters to maximise competitive advantages.
    Developing Business Clusters – by creating regional partnerships of business, councils, research organisations and iwi to get the best out of local and emerging industries.
  4. Building wealth by supporting new business models.
    Building wealth from the ground up – by encouraging new models of business, including entrepreneurship and cooperatives to create a more sustainable economy.
  5. A just transition to support workers in a shifting job market.
    Building wealth from the ground up – by encouraging new models of business, including entrepreneurship and cooperatives to create a more sustainable economy.
  6. Income security so our tax and welfare systems deliver.
    Ensuring greater income security – through investigation of new models of income security for New Zealand, including considering a limited trial of a universal basic income-type system in a town or region.
  7. Reform the transition between education, training and work.
    Ensuring greater income security – through investigation of new models of income security for New Zealand, including considering a limited trial of a universal basic income-type system in a town or region.
  8. Working futures: 3 years free post-secondary education.
    Labour’s Working Futures Plan – in which all New Zealanders receive three free years of post-school education, phased in from 2019.
  9. Maori partnerships to help develop the Maori economy.
    Partnering with Maori in a post-Treaty settlement era – through the Government facilitating strategic partnerships between iwi, business, and third parties to develop the Maori economy.
  10. Pasifika partnerships to support Pasifika in entrepreneurship, work and training.
    Establishing a Pasifika working futures plan – by working with the community to focus on the transition between education and work and identifying and eliminating the barriers to entrepreneurship.

Read the full Ten Big Ideas discussion document here.

Future of Work conference

Labour party live tweets from their Future of Work conference.

Getting down to business : “I will be running this like a military operation, albeit, a friendly one” FutureofWorkNZ

has the intellectual grunt to lead this work.

cemwfvrxeaa_q-a

No one must be left out, no one must be left behind.

Change is a constant but the pace is warp speed in digital era.

Thousands have responded:You want work to be meaningful, you have talked about the dignity work provides.

The value of work goes beyond just the income it provides.

We have to confront inequality – the gap between rich and the rest has continued to grow.

10 Big Ideas are a snapshot of the thinking that has emerged from Commission

As many of you can see the economy has worn me down – the small but perfectly formed

The TPP will make it more and more difficult for democracies to protect their people from the very wealthy.

Lifelong learning won’t be a luxury in the future: it’s something we will all have to build into our lives.

Education not just a private investment, it’s a public good. It makes a nation’s workforce work better and smarter.

cem34flxeaaqums

You have to take the risk – putting out progressive ideas that weren’t yesterday’s ideas.

Facebook boss says Facebook has the biggest unpaid labour force in the world.

This is the first working class in history whose education is higher than the work they’re asked to do.

The thought of 30 years of full time employment does not excite the juices – we have to think outside the box.

We need to reconceptualise work; it’s not just a bloody job.

The class nature of politics is crucial – so other classes can’t pinch the agenda.

“The distribution of security is more unequal today than the distribution of income.

Ye are many, they are few: Shelley.

Grant Robertson’s Future of Work Conference opening speech

 

 

UBI at $211 a week?

Grant Robertson and Labour are talking up the idea of a Universal Basic Income. I agree with them that it’s a discussion worth having, but it’s going to be difficult coming up with an affordable policy.

NZ Herald: Labour considers ‘universal basic income’ policy

All adult New Zealanders could be given a Government handout of at least $200 a week under a new policy being considered by the Labour Party.

The co-leader of a global network promoting a “universal basic income”, British professor Guy Standing, will be a keynote speaker at a Labour conference on “the future of work” in Auckland next week.

He said yesterday that a system “where every legal resident of New Zealand should be entitled to a modest monthly basic income” would reduce inequality and give some security to people who increasingly have to earn a living from insecure casual and short-term work.

And Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said Labour was considering a local version of a scheme developed by economist Gareth Morgan, who proposed paying every adult a basic income of $11,000 a year ($211 a week).

“I’ve spoken to the Morgan Foundation about it. They are continuing to work on the idea,” Mr Robertson said.

“We are looking at how do we ensure income security, and one of the things we are looking at is whether or not a universal basic income could form part of that policy. It’s very early days.”

Robertson was questioned about the level of payment on Twitter and he made it clear it was only a suggestion from Morgan and was nowhere near Labour policy, yet.

They are talking about it being a universal payment from age 18 but that would have to exclude superannuants.  The current living alone super rate is significantly higher than that at $374.53 going down to $288.10 for one partner of a couple.

It would be an increase for youth on Jobseeker Support, which is 156.51, but substantially less than other rates that go up to $244.54.

They can hardly cut Super and Jobseeker rates to a universal basic income level.

A lot of people currently not on benefits would presumably get it, for example non-working partners of people who are working.

There’s a lot of discussing to do on this if it is to become policy for next year’s election.

More Labour information: Towards a shared prosperity

Future of Work Conference — Towards a shared prosperity here.

 

Expect radical shift in Labour economic policy

Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says we can expect a radical shift in Labour’s economic policy.

A cynic could suggest a radical shift towards common sense would be welcome, but voters tend to be very wary of radical policy suggestions from those who could follow through with them.

Can we also expect a radical shift in primary and secondary education policy?

NZ Herald reports Expect radical changes to economic policy, says Robertson.

Grant Robertson says New Zealanders can expect a radical shift in the Labour Party’s economic policy ahead of the 2017 election as his party looks to prepare workers for huge changes in the labour market in coming decades.

Mr Robertson is in Paris for the OECD’s Future of Work Forum, where politicians, businesspeople and unions are discussing how to adapt to the digital economy and the increasing casualisation of the workforce.

The shadow finance and employment minister is seeking ideas for his Future of Work Commission, a two-year project which will inform Labour’s new economic development policies.

“If we look ahead two decades, there will be enormous change,” he told the Herald from Paris. “Up to half of the jobs in the economy today won’t be there.”

That is because blue- and white-collar jobs are being lost to robotics, automisation and computerisation.

The working environment is becoming more flexible, and people are more likely to have several different career paths over their lifetime.

Mr Robertson said addressing these changes would mean a radical change of direction for his party.

“I do think there will be some big shifts because that reflects the magnitude of the change that is happening,” he said.

The nature of work in New Zealand and around the world has already changed enormously over the past fifty years.

Labour’s Future of Work commission is a good medium term project, focusing on what should be a core policy area for them, labour. It’s the sort of thing that should be done by parties while in Opposition – Labour should have started this sort of thing six years earlier but now is better than going nowhere.

Of course the benefits to Labour and to the country will depend on the quality of the findings of their Commission. Hopefully they will be useful to all parties in looking ahead.

Mr Robertson said New Zealand already had a flexible labour market, but it needed to be balanced with greater security and income support.

“Obviously you can’t take a model and replicate it from one country to another. It’s the principles of it that we are looking at and how something similar could be put in place in New Zealand.”

A less certain working environment meant workers would have to upskill or retrain throughout their careers, Mr Robertson said.

“The idea that you can leave school or go to university and you never have to do anything else is gone now. Whatever system we come up with needs to be linked to the idea that training is an automatic part of your working life.”

Rethinking the amount of upfront tertiary education compared to ongoing training and retraining parallel to careers – most people can now expect to change careers several times through their working lives – is important.

It’s impractical to spend 3-6 years getting degrees and then having to repeat every decade or so.

A good academic grounding is very useful but being able to duck in and out of education or training is becoming essential in many fields of work.

Preparing New Zealanders for the changing workforce will have to begin early – at primary schools – and will prompt changes to the education system and curriculum.

“The more traditional ways of assessing and learning are starting to become less and less relevant,” Mr Robertson said.

“I expect big changes in the education and training system to be one of the things that comes out of the commission,” the Labour MP said.

Is Robertson also hinting at radical changes to primary and secondary level education? That could be challenging given the reluctance of education sectors to relatively minor changes to their comfort zones.

The Future of Work Commission’s findings will be published in November.

That timing is a shame. It is heading into the political dead zone at end of year, and then we will be headlong into election year, so there may be little chance of a decent non-partisan assessment of the results of Labour’s Commission.

Much may depend on how much Labour’s efforts are targeting their election campaign next year and how much is for the future good of the country as a whole.