Earlier in the month, the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council (BAC) launched the Aotearoa New Zealand Skills Pledge. The organisations that sign on commit to doubling investment in employee re-skilling and training hours by 2025 and to report annually on that investment.
The pledge comes off the back of a new report – A Future that Works: Harnessing Automation for a More Productive and Skilled New Zealand. It explores both the impact of automation on the workforce as well as the opportunities for automation to solve the ongoing productivity issues our country faces.
We were proud to sign on at launch and as Anna Curzon, Chief Partner and Product Officer at Xero and BAC member said –
“The future of work is really about the future of education. As a country, we need bold actions that link all levels of the education system, including workplace retraining, with delivery of the skills demanded in future labour markets. This has to include clearer pathways for students, displaced workers, career changers and older members of the workforce.”
Looking more broadly at the report and the discussion of automation increasing productivity is a positive one. New Zealand has had issues with productivity levels for a number of years now and it is apparent the workarounds and quick fixes that have been put in place, haven’t worked. Previously we have hired more people and pushed ourselves to work longer hours. However, with the talent shortage and a workforce at capacity, it is no longer easy to people to throw at the problem.
While automation can bring with it an element of trepidation, its benefits are significant. It’s something we have recognised in the financial sector, where manual and laborious administration tasks have been automated by our platform – freeing accountants and bookkeepers up to move into a business advisory role. Automation, combined with a process of reskilling the workforce through initiatives such as this pledge, has the opportunity to make a huge difference on the Kiwi economy.
Currently, small businesses contribute to just shy of 30 percent of New Zealand’s GDP. Imagine if this was closer to 50 percent. We would have one of the most stable economies in the world – no longer at the mercy of external influences or other market fluctuations. Increasing productivity within the small business sector takes us closer to this goal – if we can increase productivity, we can increase GDP contribution.
This is where accountants and bookkeepers come in. As trusted business advisors you have the opportunity to support and help shape the small businesses on their productivity journey. Be the person they turn to when exploring which technology apps will best support their business or when they are trying to decide whether to hire a new grad or reskill someone going through a career change. Our goal was to use automation through the Xero platform to free you up to be this person for small business – we challenge you to take us up on it.