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Future of work, Dunedin

future of work studyThe future is coming whether we’re ready or not.

Otago Business School management academics have been canvasing business and community leaders on their visions of the future of work, to gauge the extent of local thinking and planning for the years to come.

Pilot research was carried out in Dunedin by Dr Sara Walton, Dr Diane Ruwhiu, Dr Paula O’Kane and Virginia Cathro from the Department of Management, but further studies are in the pipeline for other New Zealand cities and different industry sectors.

Employment, climate, business and family are all concerns facing business people, but overwhelmingly all believe that work will change and business will be ever more challenging. Technology was also a hot topic in the Dunedin survey, but is an issue that is likely to be New Zealand wide, with business people expecting technology to further open the global world. Skills development is therefore a key concern, and the implications of changing business needs and employment means future education and training need considerable planning.

Dunedin business people made it very clear they want the city to be prepared to meet those challenges. “This is a “wicked” problem that requires whole systems thinking, but leading the collective discussion on the future sustainability of work is something the Otago Business School is keen to develop further,” Dr Walton said.

Key points:
1. We need to start planning for the future now and incorporating ideas into current business planning and strategic thinking. Don’t leave it for someone else.
2. The needs of people are going to change and it will be important for business to support those changes and focus on skill development.
3. We should not become blinded by horizons – staying in the game requires opening up to ideas that may sit outside our comfort zones but this research shows that it is important to have those discussions and not ignore the changes that may bring opportunities as well as different ways of operating.

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