Labour Future of Work conference: Ideas over policy

Grant Robertson (Getty)
Grant Robertson (Getty)

Labour is going for ideas rather than policy at its Future of Work Conference today. 

The "Ten Big Ideas" are aimed at securing the future of jobs for New Zealanders in a rapidly changing, technologically focused world. 

The chair of the Labour think-tank, Grant Robertson, says change in the workforce is happening at 10 times the rate of the industrial revolution. 

"Change is a constant, but the pace is warp speed in the digital era," he said. 

The ideas include equal access to digital technology, a focus on accelerating technology in business, partnering with Maori and encouraging entrepreneurs. 

One idea is based on enduring income security, and though a discussion document on universal basic income was released as part of the commission's work, Labour isn't heralding the idea. 

That could be because it is quite radical, as noted by keynote speaker Professor Robert Reich, a former US Secretary of Labor in the Bill Clinton administration. 

"Right now it spooks people when you talk about it, but eventually we will need to talk about it," he said of a guaranteed minimum income. 

Labour leader Andrew Little said the aim of the commission was to ensure equality, that no Kiwi was left behind. 

Mr Little said in a rapidly changing world, it was important to think big. 

"I think part of the challenge that we have is thinking outside the usual confines of policy."

The conference will this afternoon hear from Professor Guy Standing.