The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recently hosted two members of the OECD – Dr Giuseppe Nicolette and Dr Chiara Crisculo – who discussed the divergence between the anticipated benefits of technological change and what they have observed. It was also an opportunity for public and private sector leaders to discuss the New Zealand context.

Both Dr Nicoletti and Dr Criscuolo’s work focuses on explaining the global productivity slowdown, identifying avenues for improving future prospects for productivity and innovation, and the design of institutions seeking to promote higher productivity and inclusiveness.

  • Dr Giuseppe Nicoletti is the Head of the Structural Policy Analysis Division at the OECD, a position he has held since 2004. He is also the co-manager of the Global Forum on Productivity.
  • Dr Chiara Crisculo is the Head of the Productivity and Business Division in the Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate at the OECD. She is also a research associate of the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics.

You can view the slides here: OECDGFP_MBIEbreakfastpresentation_18June2019

Supporting documentation can be found here.

Digital Skills are key

One of their headline findings was “Skill shortages reduce productivity gains from adoption, especially in low productive firms” with the corresponding recommendation of developing good policy to increase “Participation in training – especially of low-skilled workers – and its quality, as well as promoting good cognitive, organisational and managerial skills“.

In describing the impact of the skills shortage and how it is constraining productivity growth Dr Nicolette commented on the vicious cycle – the need to adopt to improve productivity and being less able to do so with such a skills shortage in the least productive industries and firms. He also discussed the importance of lifting digital skills across an entire organisation including all levels of management to achieve productivity gains.

A challenge for New Zealand

As indicated in their opening slides labour productivity in Aotearoa is still low and has continued to decline in recent decades. If Digital Skills are a key to redressing our productivity challenges then both business and government need to work together to implement policies that will increase training and development of digital skill capability in our workforce. The Digital Skills Forum are actively developing advice on this and would welcome your thought (please comment on this post).

Victoria Maclennan, Chair Digital Skills Forum