Grant Robertson, the popular Wellington Central MP, addressed the members of Rotary Karori on Tuesday 20 June. After a brief biographical introduction, Grant moved on to his main topic of the evening, his work as Chair of the Future Of Work Commission. The Commission is a Labour Party initiative that has taken place over a 2 year period. The Commission has produced a 78 page report that attempts to break out of the 3 year electoral cycle and to look at the big picture for employment trends.
Grant contrasted the speed of change in various eras, from the printing press to the internet. Automation is increasingly gaining traction and is popping up in surprising places. Not only is automation becoming dominant in large scale manufacturing but also areas such as accounting and medicine. The report contains 63 recommendations focusing on inclusion, resilience and adaptability. The full report can be found at
Grant stressed the importance of careers advisers to assist young people preparing to enter a rapidly changing work place. Sadly this advice is largely lacking at the present time, with teachers often expected to carry out this function as an addition to regular teaching commitments.
Because work is so central to our existence it inevitably touches on many aspects of our lives. Grant stressed the importance of belonging to strong communities and the role of home ownership in achieving this goal. Also key is the role of parents and educators in forming future lives.
Work force planning will be increasingly important, and rather than specialists we will need 'good human beings' who are able to interact with and adapt to the environment.
The distribution of wealth will need to change to reduce inequality and the role of a Universal Basic Income as a response to narrowing lifetime employment options needs further investigation.
The wide ranging nature of Grant's address sparked a lively discussion until Grant had to return to Parliament.