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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.3

    26 October, 1994

    Employment Task Force special report on education, training, and employment policies for young people.

    The Employment Task Force released an interim report focussing on youth issues on October 13. The main report is due out next month, but the 47 recommendations in this report were released earlier so that the government will have an opportunity to implement urgent measures needed to meet the needs of pupils planning to leave school at the end of this year. The Taskforce recommends the school-leaving age be raised to age 17, and that all young people under the age of 20 to have access to either education, training or work opportunities. We feature an essential guide to the Taskforce report as an insert to this edition of The Jobs Letter.

    One of the key principles of the Taskforce Report on youth issues is that the Income Support system should encourage people to take up education, training or employment opportunities. They suggest that the system should "reinforce" involvement in these areas, whilst still protecting individuals and their families. This may herald the introduction of tying income support to individual participation in education, training or employment schemes.

    Source _ The Interim Report of the Prime Minsiterial Task Force on Employment, 13/10/94, An Education, Training and Employment Policy for Young People

    We Came To Play is the title of three music schools in Palmerston North, Levin and Porirua, funded through TOPS programmes and gaining extraordinary success with low achievers, school dropouts and streetkids. Pauline Swain writes in the Dominion that only 5 out of 107 candidates so far have failed their Royal Schools of Music exams, and more than half have passed with distinction (marks over 90%). We Came to Play is the brainchild of Fraser Tahau, a musician with the bank Hokio and an extraordinary motivator of would-be musicians. The course is for a year and they learn life skills, music production training, how to market themselves and buy good second-hand equipment. It works closely with Champagne Promotions that helps find work for trainees. Tahau : " We lift their musical skills, mould them into rock bands, duos and other performing groups, give them experience, tidy up their natural talent, and hopefully they leave us with their head in the right place and aware they have a lot more to learn ..."
    Source _ The Dominion 18/10/94 Students face the music

    Registered unemployed at NZ Employment continues to fall to 175,411 people, a reduction of 13.2% on September last year. Long-term unemployed (over 6 months) have dropped 19,600 to 86,158 people. Job advertisements throughout NZ at a record high, with 51% more adverts placed this Sept than last.
    Source _ The Dominion 14/10/94 Figures show fourth fall in unemployment

    More part-time work is available in NZ. Statistics NZ cites an 11.1% increase in part-time worker numbers in the year to Feb 94, as opposed to a 5.6% rise in the number of people working 30 or more hours.

    More on Growth and Jobs. Noam Chomsky notes that in the present recovery in the United States there is less than one third of the job growth there was in the previous six recoveries there. Chomsky, quoted in an article in New Society and Statesman, says that of the jobs that are being created, a high proportion (more than a quarter in 1992) are temporary, and most are not in the "productive" part of the economy. Chomsky : " Economists welcome this vast increase in temporary jobs as an `improvement in the flexibility of the labour market'. It actually means that when you go to sleep at night you don't know if you're going to have work the next morning. This is good for profits, which means its good for the economy..."
    Source - New Satesman & Society 3/6/94 "Profits of Doom" - Noam Chomsky

    Substantial amounts of the funds government supports voluntary welfare agencies with is being spent by the agencies making their applications, or in collecting statistics for their funders. Margaret Fraser, chair of the NZ Council of Social Services, says that reporting requirements were often totally out of proportion to the amount of money paid, and while agencies might receive half their funding from government, they were responsible to be 100% accountable to government. Ms Fraser went on to say that voluntary organisations fear they are starting to be seen as either agents of, or controlled by the state.

    American economists are counting about 2 million new jobs added to their economy last year, and have pronounced that the economy there is in its second full year of growth following the 1990-91 recession. But this growth is not leading to significant trickle-down effects for the American poor. The US Census Bureau reported that the median household income fell about 1% last year, while the number of Americans living in poverty - below $US14,763 a year for a family of four - grew by 1.3 million and now accounts for 15% of the US population.
    Source _ Time Magazine 24/10/94 cover story: Back on Top And It Hurts

    Local Economic Development is the theme of a special conference being held in Oamaru Nov 21-24, and sponsored by the Community Employment Group. Keynote speakers include Dr Alan Barr (Scotland) on the Social Economy, Prof John Keiler (USA) A USA Perspective on Local Economic Development, John Wise (CEG) on the NZ experience, Bill Clohessy (Ireland) on Communities in Transition, Tipene O'Reagan (Ngai Tahu) on Indigenous Development, John Gutsell on the Waitaki Enterprise development Project, and Geoff Kearsley (Otago Univ) on Measuring the Results. The Conference Organiser is David Wilson, Private Bag, Herbert, Otago 03-439-5011

    The New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project is a study being carried out by social policy consultant Charles Waldegrave, Paul Frater from BERL and Bob Stephens from Victoria University. It proposes that the poverty line for New Zealanders should be set at 60% of the median equivalent household's disposable income after housing costs have been deducted. This would give an income of just over $17,000 to two adults and a child. By this measure, 17.9% of New Zealanders were below the poverty line in 1991. These households would require an extra $3690 a year to meet their expenses. Waldegrave was reported in the Dominion last month as saying that around $850 million extra spending by government would be required this year to lift people above the poverty line. Bill Birch is not too impressed with these arguments. His budget surplus this year is calculated at $750 million, but he proposes spending most of it repaying debt and improving health services.

    Musical chairs and Employment. Labour's employment spokesperson Steve Maharey is promoted to Labour's front bench in place of newly independent MP Peter Dunne. And as the new electoral boundaries under MMP are announced, assistant Employment Minister Roger Maxwell's seat has disappeared.
    Source _ The Dominion 19/10/94 Maharey promoted `to boost party profile', New Zealand Herald 13/10 94 Promotion due for Maharey

    Meanwhile ... politicians get a pay rise. The Prime Minister now on $181,500 (up 5.2%), Employment Minister Wyatt Creech is on $123,000 (up 1.7%), Ordinary MP's are now on $71,000 (up from $67,500). Assistant Employment Minister Roger Maxwell's (who is outside cabinet) has no change to his salary - it stays at $120,000.
    New Zealand Herald 21/10/94 Politicians get pay rise of over 5 per cent, The Dominion 21/10/94 Politicians get 5pc pay rise by Catriona MacLennan

    Maori Affairs Minister John Luxton says that Maori Trust Boards as a structure will definitely go. Key issues : The need for the Boards to be accountable to their beneficiaries rather than to the Minister.

    Poi E, The Musical by Dalvanius Prime is based on the 1992 closure of the Patea Freezing Works and certainly worth a look. The Stratford Press calls it a production full of "great songs acted with passion and warmth". The show will soon tour the main centres.
    Source _ The Daily News 22/10/94 Prime Time (photo)

    Social Welfare is still using controversial powers to order schools and hospitals to give personal details about families of pupils and patients. It had earlier agreed to stop until a parliamentary committee inquiry into these powers was completed.

    Nearly 100 businesses and 4000 jobs have been saved by `phoenix co-ops' in Italy in the last 9 months. These are worker co-operatives supported under the Italy's Marcona Law which gives state funding for co-operative developments particularly those aimed at failing businesses.

    Whether Green Dollars should be treated as income for benefit or tax purposes is again in the news here. According to Geoff Mulgan, Director of the UK Demos Think Tank, the concept of a `twin economy' should be adopted as public policy. "The Government could use it to help the unemployed, creating demand and thus economic activity, without the inflationary consequences of the formal economy.' In the US, similar schemes known as `service credits' or `time dollars' are considered `non-economic activity and are exempt from tax, according to Kirstie Milne in Letslink.

    Credit Unions have a lot to offer and in Canada the people know that. One third of Canadians are members of a local Credit Union. In Britain, the growth of Credit Unions were supported by local authorities as part of an anti-poverty strategy in the 1980's. Credit Union workers in the UK say their work has the potential to be part of a wider package involving debt counselling. - from New Society and Statesmen.

    More successful businesses should be participating in community projects and helping long term unemployed back to work, says Karroll Brent Edmonson. She owns and manages the K T Footwear factory in Manurewa where about 70% of the staff were long term unemployed, some up to four years. She sells all the shoes through the Warehouse chain which is launching a special promotion. A portion of the money from sales will go back to community projects. Edmonson leads by example. For the last four years she has been feeding hungry children at local schools. Robert Mannion features her in a special Dominion profile (19 Oct).

    The end of the Job, as a way of organising work, is the controversial idea being put forward in US writer William Bridges new book Jobshift, published this month by Addison Wesley Publishing Co. Bridges believes that the Job is a social artifact that has outlived its usefulness. His analysis of present-day unemployment is that we are not just losing a certain number of jobs, or jobs in certain industries, or in parts of the country ... what is disappearing is the very idea of a "job" itself. Bridges observes that today's organisations are rapidly being transformed from structures built out of jobs into "fields of work that need to be done".

    "Jobs are no longer socially adaptive. That is why they are going the way of the dinosaur. The job is an idea that emerged early in the 19th century to package the work that needed doing in the growing factories and bureaucracies of the industrialising nations. Most of us have forgotten its artificiality or the fact that most societies since the beginning of time have done just fine without jobs. The job is not going to be a part of tomorrows economic reality. There still is and will always be enormous amounts of work to do, but it is not going to be contained in the familiar envelopes we call jobs." - cover story, 19 September 1994 issue of Fortune.

    In an excellent Dominion feature article (13 Oct 94) entitled "Poverty and Progress in New Zealand", Catriona MacLennan summarises six main policy changes that Foodbank advocates and community organisations are calling for. They include :

    Restoring benefits to pre-April 1991 levels. The benefit cuts removed an average $14 a week from unemployment beneficiaries, $26 from domestic purposes benefit, and $27 from the sickness benefit.

    Abandoning housing market rents : a May 1994 report found the number of state house tenants among Salvation Army foodbank recipients showed that 85% of those surveyed were paying over 30% of their income on rent, with 34% paying over half on rent.

    Better benefit administration by Income Support, including more training to ensure staff are aware of all benefit entitlements.

    Easing of benefit stand-downs and criteria for supplementary benefits : the government is expected to ease the criteria that beneficiaries meet the first $20 of extra expenditure, but not before budget announcements in 1995.

    Review of benefit abatement rates : these currently result in high marginal tax rates for beneficiaries in part-time work.

    More support for former psychiatric patients in the community.

    Source _ The Press 14/10/94 Poverty campaign reviewed. The Dominion 13/10/94 "Poverty and Progress in NZ" - Catriona Mclennan

    Charles Handy, author of "The Empty Raincoat - Making Sense of the Future" believes we have misinterpreted Adam Smith's ideas to means that if we looked after our own interests, some "invisible hand" would mysteriously arrange things so that it all worked out the best for all. This interpretation has led to the promulgation of the rights of the individual and freedom of choice for all. Handy points out that Adam Smith, who was a professor of moral philosophy not of economics, built his theories on the basis of a moral community. Before he had written A Theory of the Wealth of Nations, he had written his definitive work, A Theory of Moral Sentiments, arguing that a stable society was based on a moral duty to have regard for your fellow human beings. Handy : " Without the accompanying requirements of self-restraint; without though of one's neighbour, or one's grandchildren , our freedoms becomes licence and then mere selfishness. The market is a mechanism for sorting the efficient from the inefficient ... it is not a substitute for responsibility."

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