Return to Jobsletter Home

To the last Jobs Letter

To the next Jobs Letter

To this Letters Diary

To the Index







    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.4

    7 November, 1994

    Industry Training Organisations are reporting that only half as many people are doing apprenticeships as there were 10 years ago. The latest figures show that there are only a total of 11,743 people in apprenticeships in the year to June. Mike Smith of the Engineers Union and Chairman of the Engineering ITO says that the government sent the wrong message to employers when they repealed the Apprenticeship Act three years ago. Employers decided not to take on new apprenticeships because they thought the whole system was going to be scrapped.

    Mike Smith says that it is still important for employers to be taking on apprenticeships, and that young people should be aware that there was now a greater demand for skilled jobs. Apprenticeships have been a traditional training ground for workers in the motor vehicle, engineering, plumbing, panelbeating, and hairdressing trades. Management of the apprenticeships in recent years has been passing from ETSA, the Education Training and Support Agency, to the new regime of Industry Training Organisations.

    Source - com 1/11/94 apprentice numbers drop to new low by Anamika Vasil, New Zealand Herald 1/11/94 Apprenticeship numbers halved., NZPA

    The second half of the Labour Party's economic policy strategy has been announced. The package, published in a document called "A Working Future", contains $1 billion in spending including $200m on infrastructure projects such as roads, public transport and sewerage schemes. It will be financed largely through budget surpluses, and a small increase in taxation for the rich.

    Labour revives the concept of a negotiated economy by proposing a $5m Strategy New Zealand board comprising of government, worker and business representatives who will draw up a 10-year economic strategy and set targets in areas such as wages policies. It will spend another $20m to set up another organisation called Industry New Zealand to implement their strategy goals. They will require all enterprises with more than 200 employees to provide staff training, and want a more rationalised series of Industry Training Organisations with the power to levy their member industries for funding. Other spending : A $20m venture capital fund, $10m for "micro business" assistance, and $10m on promoting ecological sustainability in industry.

  • Labour's new policies will put all employment-related government agencies (such as NZ Employment, the Community Employment Group, the Careers Service and ETSA) into a "one-stop shop" government department to be called Labour New Zealand. They propose that no dole be paid to under 20-year olds, but that within three years they should all be in education, employment or training. A new $25m community-based work scheme is planned to establish community-based enterprises to employ the jobless. These would be set up by either central or local government, a non-profit business or a joint venture of any of them. The enterprises would be subsidised the equivalent of the dole for their workers, but required to pay their "employees" the minimum wage.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 8/10/94, Clark's plan for gain instead of pain by Audrey Young

    Criticisms have emerged of the pilot Job Action Programmes being trialed in 24 centres by NZ Employment. The $6.5 million programme was the main employment initiative announced in this year's Budget. It is compulsory for those out-of-work for two years or more, and involves a one-week workshop to produce individual plans for getting jobs. In Palmerston North, Jane Ballantyne of the Workers' Unemployed Rights Centre says that the programme is a waste of taxpayers money and should be discontinued. One person on the Palmerston North programme reported that the 5-minute "in depth" interview only told him he could lose the benefit if he didn't do the course, and the one-week course was insulting and demeaning. There has been no independent evaluation of the pilots.

    A survey by the Canterbury Manufacturers association last month showed that out of a total of 151 vacancies for skilled trades, local employers were having difficulties filling 1409, or 93% of them. Employers are reporting similar instances of skill shortages throughout the country. Anamika Vasil writes in the Dominion that shortages are most critical among printers, fitters and turners, welders, clothing and furniture machinists, electricians and sheet-metal workers. She reports that employers were also finding it difficult to hire general manufacturing workers with the skills needed for modern production, including good communication skills.
    Source- Dominion article by Animika Vasil

    Farmers need to look at more entrepreneurial ways of processing raw products in NZ. Irish rural development consultant Agnes Gannon says that there are opportunities to create more employment, and rebuild the strength of rural communities, if we were only more creative with our abundant raw resources. She told the GATT and Agriculture conference in Wellington that producing more of the same, as in growing more wool, does not make you an entrepreneur. We need to look at the development of products based on these raw resources. "You are missing the opportunities by shipping the wool off to Italy, and then buying it back as beautifully finished garments with brand names..."

    The Jackson Hole Symposium held in August in the USA was an international gathering of bankers (including our own Don Brash) called to focus on current issues and policy options for reducing unemployment. The economic policy emphasis in many countries, including New Zealand, has been on controlling inflation. Assar Linbeck Director of the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University told the Symposium that this is not sufficient : "Wishful thinking and ideological hangups should not be allowed to prevent the broad package of policy actions that is needed today to win the battle against high and persistent unemployment," Lawrence Katz of the U S Department of Labour agreed : "The experience of the 1980's shows that macroeconomic expansions, new technologies, and expanded trade can leave many behind when not accompanied by active measures to improve skills, assist re-employment and make work pay."

  • The Symposium considered several interesting approaches. A number of economists have looked at the high level of unemployment together with the high level of benefit payments in different countries and concluded that welfare schemes actually cause unemployment. Their theory goes on to suggest that reducing benefits will therefore reduce unemployment. Dale Mortensen, Economics Professor at the Northwestern University in Wyoming has done the figures. He calculates that a 50% reduction in the average level of benefits would decrease the unemployment rate by about 1.2% primarily by reducing the typical unemployed worker's time required to find a job from 13 to 10.5 weeks. Mortensons's paper to the symposium didn't comment on the increasing poverty that reducing benefit payments would bring.

    Richard Randerson has left the office of the Anglican Social Responsibility Commissioner to take up a appointment as a Bishop in Australia. He has headed the commission since its founding in 1990 and has been a clear advocate for alternatives on social and economic policies since the benefit cuts of 1990. He has been known to describe the current government policies as "evil", "immoral" and "idolatrous" in their support of money principles before the needs of people. He says the Commission has reached the end of its first stage of work, which was to encourage parishioners to lobby for social reforms.

    "The Spectre of Capitalism" (pub. Vintage, 1993) is a book by William Keegan, the Economics Editor of the London "Observer". It is about the future of the world economy after the fall of communism. "Short enough for busy world leaders to read ......I hope Bill Clinton reads it" -- New Statesman.

    Starting salaries in Australia for new Batchelor degree graduates have fallen to their lowest level since the 1970's.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 10/10/94 Starting pay levels slide

    The benefits of a shorter working week featured in a recent Listener article by Mary Holm. In Germany, Volkswagen wanted to reduce staff numbers by 30%, or 30 thousand workers. Instead, they reduced work hours by 20% and pay by 13%, and there were no layoffs.

    "Participating and Belonging", the Alliance policy submission to the Employment Taskforce, offers a definition of full employment that is not traditional in its approach, and encompasses social goals that are not usually recognised in economic debates. It defines full employment as "... full participation in, and belonging to, society by all its members with an adequate income and a rising standard of social well-being for all." The Alliance recommends further redefining our concept of full employment to include : flexibility of work opportunities beyond the traditional 40-hr week, a more equitable sharing of available work, paying for socially useful work that is currently done unpaid, expanding the numbers of people employed in key service occupations, and developing equal employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

    The pressure for more active job creation measures continues in the United States. A new Bill introduced to Congress would provide $30.6 billion for public works and a further $11 billion for job training, head start, education and health care. This would create more than 900 thousand construction jobs and 430 thousand jobs for health and education workers according to Marion Anderson, Director of Employment Research Associates in East Lansing, Michigan. The Bill was introduced by four members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and is the second major job-creation bill pending in Congress. The money would come from imposing an 0.25% tax on the sale of corporate and government bonds and stocks, raising capital gains taxes, and other taxes on the wealthy.
    Source - Internet

    The co-operative movement celebrates being 150 years old this year with world-wide commemorations of England's Rochdale Pioneers, the group of weavers who in 1844 started their Co-operative store, laying down the original principles of co-operative enterprise. A special New Society & Statesman Co-operative supplement has been produced to commemorate the anniversary, and covers the history of the co-op movement and articles on worker, producer, consumer co-ops, credit unions and green dollars. There are currently 700 million co-op businesses worldwide, in more than 100 countries. The co-op stores are still Britain's largest single retailer, although they have been losing market share to other retail chains for generations.

    Colin Ward writes in the supplement that the co-op movement has had a long and hard struggle but may yet offer a bright future. "Many of us in Britain, of the generation who were children before World War II, grew up in a co-op centred culture without ever connecting it with social and political convictions. Successive generations have had to re-discover co-operative principles in every decade. What matters to me is that the principles of co-operation should be seen as relevant to our successors. We need to seek out alternatives to capitalism, with its continual aim of devaluing or eliminating labour, and state enterprise, which is dependent on managerialism. The only known alternative is co-operation, and we have to find ways of making it work in the 21st century..."

  • According to the Open University Co-operative Research Unit there are 1400 worker co-operatives in Britain with a combined turnover of 300m pounds, and employing 8-9 thousand people. These worker co-operatives can be very successful ... "Paperback" is Britain's largest supplier of recycled paper with a turnover of 2.8m pounds. It has 25 employees and doubled its turnover every 12 months in the first five years of its business.

    In the European Union there are 45 thousand co-ops employing around 750 thousand people. In Italy, nearly 100 businesses and 4 thousand jobs have been saved by 'phoenix co-ops' in the last 9 months. These are worker co-operatives supported under Italy's Marcona Law which gives state funding for co-operative developments particularly those aimed at failing businesses.

    Source - NSS Co-op Supplement, 17/6/94, Voyages of the co-op enterprise, by Colin Ward

    International lobby groups have started a campaign against the use of child labour in the carpet industries of India and Nepal, and there have been calls in Europe and North America for a consumer boycott of the hand-knotted carpet industry. Wools of New Zealand doesn't support such a boycott because combined sales of NZ wool to India and Nepal make them our second most important wool export destination. Says the quarterly magazine Wool Report : " ... it is a fact of life, like on many NZ farms, that family labour is vital to keep much of the Indian and Nepalese carpet-making ventures viable. "
    Source - The Dominion 3/11/94 Child labour ban 'threat to wool trade'

    " I feel there has been an erosion of the sense of commnity - that we have become a more irresponsible society. There's not so much of a desire now to see ourselves as being responsible for one another ... "
    -- Rev Richard Randerson, outgoing Anglican Social Responsibility Commissioner, speaking to Martin Kay in the Dominion.

    "Either poverty must use democracy to destroy the power of property, or property in fear of poverty will destroy democracy."
    -- Colonel Thomas Rainsborough in the 'Putney Debates' during the English Civil War in 1647

    To the Top
    Top of Page
    This Letter's Main Page
    Stats | Subscribe | Index
    The Jobs Letter Home Page | The Website Home Page
    The Jobs Research Trust
    -- a not-for-profit Charitable Trust
    constituted in 1994
    We publish The Jobs Letter