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Labour wants free training after job cuts

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/11/2016

Workers who lose their jobs because of technological advances and automation would be given six weeks' free training a year under a Labour retraining proposal.

It's one of more than 60 recommendations made in the party's Future of Work Commission report officially launched at the their annual conference in Auckland on Saturday.

One in two jobs could be replaced by automation within the next 15 years, according to Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson, who headed the commission.

"The impact of artificial intelligence, 3D printing, sensors, algorithms and robots has only scratched the surface of what is possible," Mr Robertson told a room full of the party faithful.

"Higher levels of unemployment from rapid automation and less full time stable work seem likely."

The commission's recommendation proposes the retraining be in addition to the already-announced three years of post-school or education over a lifetime.

The commission also wants employers and employees to be prepared for the inevitability that jobs will be replaced.

It recommends employers in industries where technology advances could result in redundancies be required to have a skill development plan for each worker to prevent them becoming unemployed.

"We want this to be delivered through a partnership of government, business and unions to identify training needs early, and deliver those continually, to support people into new and meaningful work," Mr Robertson said.

The recommendations are not all party policy, with some ideas expected to take precedence over others in policy committee and cabinet discussions.

"We think the initiatives in the education and training area are very very important because they are the ones that we can do now to help prepare for the future," Mr Robertson said.

Other recommendations include a call for more recognition of the economic and skills and training benefits of unpaid work.

Those who work multiple jobs could also benefit from the proposals, including a recommendation to abolish secondary tax.

"People who are doing two and three jobs often needing to do those jobs just to make ends meet and they're being taxed at the highest tax rates on their second and third job," Mr Roberton said.

"They need that money now, they can't wait to the end of the year to get it back in a tax return."

Mr Robertson also attracted a large round of applause when he said Labour would not stand for a world where women are not valued equally to men at work.

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