How will you be working in 2020?

The New Zealand Department of Labour wants to kick-start a debate on what the nation’s workforce will look like in 2020. There’s talk about technology and productivity as well as the evolving nature of work — with particular note to knowledge workers.

Discussing the programme in a government-run blog (!) Mike Pearson writes:

“Yet to a large extent, current policy settings governing work, the workforce and the workplace assume a traditional employment relationship, characterised as “full-time jobs of indefinite duration at a facility owned or rented by the employer”.

Well maybe. However, that’s not what I’m seeing in New Zealand. Huge numbers of knowledge workers are being pushed out of traditional company structures and rehired as consultants, contractors and sub-contractors with all that implies for job security and the various benefits that come from having a conventional employer-employee relationship. In my view this will present society and government with an entirely different set of challenges.

I’m not saying I think moving knowledge workers out of traditional companies is necessarily a good thing (or a bad thing) but it is going to have far more impact than the government anticipates.