Get digital skills and give kids access to technology, urges the woman who is helping the New Zealand government prepare itself and the nation for the digital revolution.
Strategic enterprise architect Regine Deleu, who is also a data research advisory board member for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says she does not believe there will be job losses.
“There will be an increase in the need for digital skills. From a business point of view, executives need to make sure digital natives – which most young people are these days – have access to the same technologies as they have at home,” Deleu says.
“From an education point of view, the institutions need to be more digital, provide degrees in AI, machine learning, data science, digital transformation, knowledge management and architecture, etc. From a parent point of view, engage children with emerging technologies from a young age. This can be done at home, but also at libraries, schools, or even friends and family who have access to those technologies.”
Access to technology and nationwide internet coverage is vital to ensure society’s transition to an increasingly digital work happens with as little disruption and instability as possible.
As for the government itself, it will never be completely digital, she says.
“People still like a face-to-face interaction,” de Leu says. “What will happen is a change in job skills needed and a move to more digital roles.
“Data scientists, knowledge management and data visualisation will definitely be sought after.”
A small country like New Zealand will have to look outside its borders to find those skills and recruit the people who have them.
“Also, unlike Estonia [which recently announced its digital strategy], NZ doesn’t have 100 per cent network coverage around the country. Another challenge is making sure people who live in poverty don’t get excluded. Besides the skills, the government will have to make sure all New Zealanders can thrive in a digital world.”
The government already has plans to build new workforce skills and enable new ways of working, including educating senior leaders, working with industry, academia and other bodies, developing staff digital competency and working with HR around recruitment guidance with a digital focus.
For the government itself, this means making sure its services are accessible to people how and when they need them, and in ways that suit their own unique circumstances.
“People want to interact with the government as a whole. They don’t want to have to find out themselves which agency provides which services, and which services they are entitled to,” she says. “Each individual is unique and all go through a life journey – like education, employment, health, in a different way.”