How we work and what work looks like looks set to change markedly in the near future with five million jobs looking set to be lost to automation by 2025.
This doesn’t mean we all need to train as space pilots or extinct species revivalists (yes, that’s going to be a thing!). It means that while some jobs may disappear, many others will, well… appear.
Auckland’s Bridgette Johnstone has worked in recruitment for 15 years and is co-founder and consultant of the Recruitment Studio, which specialises in middle management and business support recruitment across the New Zealand workforce.
She says human work will be increasingly substituted for automation and that these partial job automations will substantially transform the workplace.
“The types of jobs that are more susceptible to automation include physical jobs in predictable environments, and jobs relating to collecting and processing data. Technological advances are less likely to impact work relating to managing people, applying expertise, creativity, and social interactions. These jobs are more difficult to automate because they are less predictable and can require an inherent human touch.”
But, says Johnstone, it is important to remember that these changes will not necessarily increase unemployment, but rather affect the retraining, and reallocation, of work.
“In order to navigate this more volatile market, people will have to be open to continually updating their skill set.
“We’ve already moving into what is known as a ‘gig economy’ where people will have several jobs that might span across multiple industries. The future of work will be less nine to five and fewer hours across multiple jobs.”
Johnstone says the importance of shared values, from both an employer and employee point of view, will only continue to be more of a part of our work culture.
“People are now far more invested in social issues and causes. If they find their potential job in a company reflecting their value systems, it will make them want to be a part of it.
“Aligning with the right causes, being socially forward, adopting environment-friendly habits, embracing diversity and demonstrating inclusivity are things people are looking for in jobs now and I believe this will continue and increase.”
She says independence will be important to employees in a way it hasn’t been in the past.
“Employees have information available to them at their fingertips. Google, YouTube and Instagram have made people very self-sufficient. If people encounter a problem, they are most likely to look it up online and troubleshoot.
“People now want to work in a place that celebrates their independence and provides them with opportunities where they can demonstrate their skills.”
She says just as her agency must work to manage these changes, so too should the government.
“Governments need to be prepared for these changes and ready to support the workforce through this period. Our agency is working to help connect our people with the new jobs of the future and assist with the necessary re-education of these candidates.
“Jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. That’s an incredible portion of future jobs with unknown potential. And it is essential that the government is ready for those transformational changes to and within our workforce.”
The future of food
With a planet stretched to its limits environmentally, and the likes of China wanting their populace to halve their meat consumption as part of their climate change and public health policy, vegan butcher Flip Grater is at the cutting edge of inventing and developing food for the future.
Former Fly My Pretties musician and author, Grater owns vegan butchery and delicatessen Grater Goods in Sydenham, Christchurch. She says she felt “almost compelled” by the birth of her daughter to develop plant-based meats and cheeses four years ago.
“After having a child the urgency of doing something helpful for the planet every single day really hit me. Music is important but it didn’t feel urgent enough so because of my love of food and my vegan background and family history I decided to develop vegan food options.
Grater became obsessed with creating a plant-based chorizo.
“My brothers once were big meat eaters and every family event I’d take my latest sample for them to try. After a year my brothers said, ‘You can stop now – this is better than the real thing’.”
Once she had developed the chorizo, she developed other meats and cheeses and opened the deli in late 2018. This Christmas they sold out of their vegan turkeys completely.
“It’s a great way to honour that background, while subverting it in line with the current climate priorities.”
A vegan since the age of 15, Grater is a fifth-generation butcher. Her forebears came from butchering in Europe to New Zealand, where her dad is working as a meat inspector in Christchurch.
Grater has taken the traditions of butchery and matched it with the current planetary situation. She now makes seitan (pronounced ‘say-tan’) products, which are made entirely out of hydrated gluten, the main protein found in wheat.
“We have a production area in our deli. Christmas we were flat out making everything on site using natural ingredients making artisanal vegan meats often using chick peas, and wheat protein, and using spices that you would for a type of meat.
“We use similar spices to ones used with meat and imitate the texture of meat to hit the same pleasure points.”
Grater says making vegan meats and cheeses is her form of activism to save the world.
“We really have to reduce our meat consumption. I have found traditional forms of activism fairly aggressive,” she says.
“Food is one of those things that brings people together and creates happiness rather than being on the outside saying something. This is something positive that we can all share.”
The deli is a booming success with a team of 10 staff working on front of house and in production. And as one of just a handful of vegan butcheries in the world, the feedback has been “beyond positive”, says Grater.
“It’s not mostly vegans coming in either – it’s people from all walks of life, mostly people trying to cut down on meat consumption for whatever reason, who leave with a whole set of vegan meats and cheeses.
“Most of our staff are not vegan and come from a wide range of backgrounds. The key ingredient with our staff is that they are interested and excited about what we’re doing.
“This is the future of food. Meats and cheeses need not be defined by the type of protein from which they’re made. We need to redefine what the words cheeses and meats mean. Traditional animal protein was salted and cultured to make it into food. We are using a protein base and using the same processing – this is still charcuterie and cheese.
“Of all our most recent meats, I am most excited currently by the pastrami. It’s so meaty and juicy I don’t eat it, but it’s made of chickpeas and beetroot. It even fooled the butchery department at Foodstuffs. It’s amazing what you can do with different technology, different moisture levels – it’s really fun food science stuff. I’m more excited about it that I thought I would be.
She says she never intended for the plant-based chorizo to lead to something as big as it has become.
“It just grew into this machine. I hadn’t made a plan to even be an employer. My partner has just joined Grater Goods. We’re been trying to muddle through with staff now we are planning on being more intentional after such an organic start. And now we focus on providing a range of specialty meats to stores and delis.”
Just as food and how we define it is changing, so too is the way we communicate.
From cave drawings to paper over several millennia, and from fax to Snapchat in a matter of years, it was once considered rude to take your laptop into a meeting, says Glenn Dougal, director of WAVE Creative Communications Agency based in Mount Maunganui.
“Now everyone has their laptop open in a meeting and we can contact people on the spot to confirm details and even make changes to campaigns in real time. Our staff will digitally collaborate with people across different time zones and countries.”
Dougal says outside of the huge changes in technology, how his people craft marketing and communications for companies has also changed exponentially over the 15 years he’s had the business.
“Last year we won the NZ Sustainable Business Award for Communicating Change for an educational campaign we did in Tauranga for the City Council. The remit was to get people to stop flushing wet wipes down the toilet, and subsequently clogging the sewerage systems. Simply telling people to stop doing it worked in the past, but no longer does.
“Now you need to get people on board and get them emotionally involved in the issue. First, we reassured them they’re not the problem but part of the solution – because everyone wants to be part of the solution. We arm them with all the facts, including that unfortunately some of these products have been marketed to them as flushable, where in reality none of them are.
“And then we invited them to join our cause to ‘save our pipes from wipes’. We communicated with a singing pink elephant via social media, in schools and ads on the back of buses to make a sentient issue important and re-educate people about disposing their wipes.”
Dougal says the ongoing changes in technology is not just a millennial challenge, it’s an opportunity for the way everyone works in the future.
“It’s not about age – it’s about appetite. We’ve had staff who have retrained around digital media for example. If you’re excited about it – that’s the key.”
Operating in te ao Māori
As Dougal says, the key to future communication is to operate from a people-centred space. Te reo Māori advocate Lee Kershaw agrees that te ao Māori is the way forward for businesses, the public sector and the education sector.
“As our population diversifies and Māori and Pasifika babies grow up, the future is both bright and brown,” he says.
“A lot of us are in a post-Treaty settlement world and businesses need to be able to connect with Māori. The Māori way of operating is different from that of Pākehā and understanding our ways will only increase engagement.”
Kershaw, Ngāti Kahungungu, is one of many who, by not having the language passed down, paid for previous generations being punished at school if they spoke their mother tongue. But unlike his grandparents and parents, he was able to go to Victoria University and was invited to participate in the prestigious Institute of Excellence in Māori Language, Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo Māori.
Now working in the public service, he encourages people to treasure their te reo as the taonga it is and to study it to a higher level.
“I’d like to encourage whānau who might still have resistance to learning te reo Māori at tertiary level to embrace and to encourage their children and their people to take subjects like science and technology and use te reo Māori as a friend to go down those pathways,” he says.
“Te reo is a pathway to the future in in many ways. It’s population; and it’s enabling us to understand diversity.”
The coalition government has committed to a goal of integrating te reo Māori into early learning centres and schools by 2025, and to one million New Zealanders to be able to speak at least basic te reo by 2040.
“For Māori, for Pākehā, and for all of us,” says Kershaw, “te reo is a big part of our future.”