TODAY |

Kiwis are working longer but producing less, new figures show

We're putting in more mahi for less - that's the conclusion from the latest productivity figures out this week showing New Zealand is lagging behind other developed nations.

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It’s prompted a call for businesses to use more technology or risk falling further behind. Source: 1 NEWS

Businesses are being urged to take on more technology or risk getting left behind.

One Hawke's Bay company, Rockit Apples, is leading the way.

Their snack-sized apples pack a big global punch. The business is growing 50 per cent every year. Mark O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Rockit Apples, says they're experiencing massive growth in markets across Asia and North America.

“What started as a bit of a joke locally, it's ended up being a leader and a premier player in its market.”

They've brought in some big guns to keep up with the demand.

“For our growth we won’t be able to keep up without these machines working,” he says.

State of the art robotic fillers package up the right apples to fit their trademark tubes in record time.

“In terms of tubes per minute the robot will do a lot more than the humans.”

It's productivity and innovation that New Zealand is lacking.

Figures out this week show Kiwis work longer hours every week and produce less per hour than most OECD countries.

Productivity Commissioner Gail Pacheco says we need to value productivity growth.

“The more productive we are, the higher our incomes and this leads to improvements in our living standards.”

Technology is seen as the key to lifting the lagging figures.

But Pacheco says training needs to be made more accessible.

“We can do other things like increase development of micro credential courses, which are short courses, which focus on a particular set of skills and competencies,” she says.

Experts like futurist Frances Valintine believe the robots aren't taking our jobs, but creating new ones.

“What we need to understand is that there's a transition happening right now, that within every job there's a digitisation process and so we're learning how to use new technologies, but these are tasks, not necessarily entire jobs.”

O'Donnell agrees and thinks people still play an important part.

“The best form of AI (artificial intelligence) is on two legs and so for us keeping people engaged in this business is really, really important.”

Any employees affected in the Rockit packhouse will be trained into other roles.

Even on the orchard, new platforms will ease picking loads and labour demands which have devastated the horticulture industry this season.

“It enables us to be a lot more broader in how we recruit.”