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    The Taskforce Report
    Addressing NZ's Greatest Challenge

    from The Jobs Letter No.6 / 5 December 1994

    That every NZ'er has the opportunity to be in paid work.
    Kia taea ai te tangata te whiwhi mahi ahakoa ki whea, ahakoa ko wai.

    As a country, we have to make a conscious decision that each person has the opportunity to find paid work. This must be accepted as one of the nation's first priorities and must be reflected in policies that stimulate job-rich economic growth. The human and financial cost of not providing that opportunity is too high.

    Economic policy must stimulate job growth. If the private sector cannot provide jobs, central and local government have a responsibility to initiate short or long-term employment strategies, for example in infrastructure development, which facilitates private sector expansion.

    Maori must play a bigger part in NZ's business life. If it takes money to remove barriers to that development, we must invest it.

    Wherever appropriate, the government should shift its emphasis from paying people to do nothing' to funding training, jobs or work experience.

    As a nation, our success in reducing unemployment and providing paid work for all who want it will affect dramatically the type of society we create for ourselves in the future.

    Estimated at $428 million

    Without reaching final figures, the Task Force analysis indicates that the proposals in their report constitute an affordable package.

    By the end of 1994

    every young person leaving school should have access to education, training or work.

    By mid-1995

    the multi-party group must agree on a comprehensive strategy to eliminate Maori disadvantage in the labour market.

    By 1997/98

    all young people under the age of 18 should be in some form of education or training.

    By 1997/98

    all young people under the age of 20 should have access to education, training or work.

    By 1997/98

    all long term unemployed should have access to individualised assistance leading to work.

    By the year 2000

    all people who have been registered unemployed for longer than 6 months should be in work, training or education.

    Copies of the report are available by writing to the Prime Ministerial Task Force on Employment, Box 55, Wellington

    The report of the Task Force on Employment was presented to the Prime minister on 30 November 1994. It addresses its recommendations in three main sections (1) Fostering job-rich economic growth, (2) An education and training policy for youth, and (3) employment and training policies for adults.

    The report outlines a set of nine key principles that guide their overall recommendations for an employment strategy.

    Supporting the role of families.

    Supporting the role of communities.

    Under the Treaty of Waitangi, specific proposals are also made to provide equity to Maori, and also Pacific Islanders

    The role of Parliament and Government in giving a framework for action.

    The importance of economic and job growth

    Developing flexible and adaptable education and training systems

    Unemployment assistance to be personalised

    Income support should encourage people into education, training or employment

    the emphasis must be on results with programmes closely monitored


  • Growth and Employment

    The Multi-Party Group should develop a Heads of Agreement statement that emphasises the importance of employment and sets the direction for future employment-related policies.

    The Employment portfolio should be assigned to a senior Minister with strong links to economic policy.

    A network of Local Employment Commissioners should be established who will be responsible for taking the lead in identifying and promoting local employment opportunities.

    Each Commissioner would chair a Local Action Group, drawing on the relevant Government agencies, community groups, local government, employee organisations, business and Maori groups, with the structure of the group depending on local conditions.

    A National Employment Commissioner should be appointed and will have the key roles of co-ordinating national policy, and ensuring strong linkages between the Local Employment Commissioners and the centre of Government.

    A National Action Group should be established. Members to be drawn from business, employee organisations, Maori, local government and the wider community and will ensure that policy milestones are met.

    The Multi-Party Group Heads of Agreement should agree on a strategy to eliminate Maori disadvantage in the labour market by June 1995.

    Urgent action should be taken to remove impediments to Maori commercial development and employment opportunities.

    Urgent action should be taken to remove impediments to the control and management by owners of Maori land.

    Maori Employment Commissioners should be appointed with responsibility for urban or tribal groupings.

    The Multi-Party Group should ensure that there is adequate investment in the infrastructure to maintain sustained employment growth in New Zealand. Particular emphasis should be placed on the needs of primary and secondary industry and the tourism sector.

    Urgent attention should be given to expanding infrastructural investment in projects that will both create employment and assist in maintaining and improving the environment, including projects aimed at reducing the rabbit and possum populations.

    `Enterprise Shops' should be created at local levels with enhanced co-ordination between Tradenz, the Community Employment Group, Business Development Boards, local government and other relevant groups.

    Review the adequacy of current funding and delivery arrangements for enterprise assistance, and ongoing mentoring assistance.

    Seeding funds for small businesses and community enterprises should be a mixture of local and government resources.

    Review the adequacy of the criteria for the Business Development Grant Schemes, and changes should be made to take account of local needs where these are identified as necessary.

    The Inland Revenue Department should better publicise the availability of personalised tax codes for those working in more than one part-time job.

    Retain the Minimum Wage Legislation.

    Provide mobility assistance for those considering moving for job interviews, or more permanently, to areas where economic growth could lead to labour shortages.

  • An Education, Training and Employment Policy for Young People

    All parents should have access to a broad range of support and assistance in early childhood education and care.

    Early childhood services for low income groups should be the first priority for early childhood spending.

    Low income parents not in training or employment should have access to up to 15 hours per week of subsidised childcare.

    All primary and secondary pupils should be assessed at transition points in their schooling to identify those who are likely to leave school without basic knowledge and skills.

    Students identified as needing extra assistance must receive individualised goal-oriented assistance.

    All students must undertake life skills courses, including parenting skills as a part of their schooling.

    The `best practice' ways of assisting young people to learn should be identified, assessed and shared with other schools and communities.

    Early in 1995, evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of the current provision of careers advice and information at both the school level, and beyond the school.

    Ensure the provision of one-to-one careers advice and guidance to students who are likely are likely to leave school early with low skill levels.

    By the end of 1995, implement specific strategies to boost the numbers of Maori careers advisers in schools.

    Identify the `best practice' models of co-operation between school and employers.

    Assist employers considering becoming a part of a Skill Pathways project.

    Expand the Skill Enhancement initiative to cover a wider range of post-school education and training, including part-time study, short courses, and courses run by private providers.

    By 1996/97 the school leaving age should be raised to 17 years.

    Students leaving school after 1994 should have full access to employment and training options after a 3 month job search period.

    Students leaving school before the middle of the year should have full access to employment and training options after a 2 month job search period.

    Students who are registered unemployed and shown to have literacy or numeracy problems or other barriers to employment should have immediate access to individual assistance, and employment and training options.

    The current range of programmes could be extended to include :

    a greater emphasis on training for pre-determined employment,

    additional work experience opportunities, additional on-the-job opportunities through flexible use of Job Plus subsidies,

    Army, Navy and Airforce courses aimed specifically at Maori youth,

    ways of developing work and life skills through cultural and leisure pursuits,

    and fully subsidised community work.

    Remove the $50/week charge for young people participating in the Limited Services Volunteer scheme.

    Increase the weekly allowance in Community Taskforce projects from $15 to $30.

    Develop innovative assistance measures for young Maori.

    Establish a flexible fund to assist jobseekers with costs in seeking or taking up work.

    Redesign family support, the training benefit, and income support to give young people under 18 yrs stronger motivation to be in education and training if they are not in paid employment.

  • Employment and Training Policies for Adults

    By Feb 1995, a top-level Change Management Unit should be established to ensure that the transition from the old to the new training systems is as smooth as possible

    Undertake an evaluation of the Industry Training Strategy and the National Qualifications Framework.

    Develop education and training funding policies which are compatible with planning for, and encouraging continuous learning across a range of providers and venues, including the senior secondary school and the workplace.

    Urgently address the long-term financial viability of wananga in consultation with Maori groups.

    By 1996, develop and implement a policy for funding recognition of prior learning (RPL).

    Develop and implement mechanisms for encouraging better integration between off-job and on-job learning.

    Expand the strategy of individualised assistance to the unemployed,

    By 1997/98, individualised assistance should be available to all job seekers who have been registered unemployed for over 6 months;

    to those job seekers assessed as "high priority", immediately after registration;

    and to those assessed as `priority' 3 months job search.

    By 1995/96: all adults who have been registered for over 2 years;

    By 1996/97: all adults who have been registered for one year; and those assessed as `priority' or `high priority';

    By 1997/98: all adults who have been registered for six months

    By 2000: no registered unemployed person will remain without work, training or education for longer than 26 weeks.

    Provide support and training for NZES staff to enable them to carry out the individualised assistance process.

    Enable and encourage NZES to contract out the process of individualised assistance and advocacy to a range of community-based and private sector organisations.

    Provide `post-placement' support as part of the individualised assistance process, and extend the existing work focus interview process until a more intensive individualised assistance process can be put in place.

    By mid-1995, develop a specific strategy for providing individualised assistance to Maori job seekers.

    Evaluate and review the objectives, criteria and administration of TOP in order to recommend significant modifications to TOP or possible alternative skills training programmes for the unemployed.

    Until TOP is reviewed, extend eligibility for TOP to ex-prisoners, and remove the requirement that TOP graduates have to wait another four weeks on the NZES register before being eligible for Job Plus, Enterprise Allowance and Taskforce Green.

    Promote the use of the Job Plus Training pilot to fund short periods of pre-employment or on-the -job training, for disadvantaged job seekers, linked to specific vacancies.

    Provide Job Plus subsidies on a more flexible basis, to encourage employers to offer a combination of structured training and work experience.

    Review the structure of the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA), in order to put in place a funding formula that will assist Domestic Purposes, Widows and Invalids Beneficiaries to take-up appropriate training.

    Allowing more flexibility in granting extensions for more disadvantaged job seekers to participate on Taskforce Green and Community Taskforce for up to a year.

    Expand the number of Job Link places, which provides unpaid work experience for up to four weeks.

    Allow more flexibility in the criteria for community work experience programmes.

    Set aside a portion of the funding of employment programmes as a `contestable fund', available for proposals that are tailored to local conditions or specific groups of unemployed (such as Maori, school leavers, women, Pacific Islands peoples or older job seekers).

    Streamline the processes which currently require a job seeker to register with both NZES and NZISS to qualify for income support. Job seekers could register as unemployed and apply for the unemployment benefit at one time, through a common registration form.

    Reduce the two week stand-down to one week, and waive the remaining week where it may result in financial hardship.

    Amend the income definition used for determining the length of the "high income earner" stand-down to ensure that it takes account of the effect of family circumstances on the applicant's ability to cover living expenses while on the stand-down.

    Reduce the 6 month stand-down for voluntary unemployment to 3 months.

    Replace the 6 month stand-down for failing the work test with a system of graduated reductions in the level of unemployment benefit. This would involve the benefit being reduced by 20% for each month of non-compliance. This new provision should be introduced in conjunction with an individualised assistance strategy and compliance with the work-test would result in immediate reinstatement of the full level of benefit.

    Introduce a dual abatement system which differentiates between work-tested and non-work tested beneficiaries. In both cases an income exemption of $80 would apply. The abatement system for non-work tested beneficiaries would have an abatement rate of 30 per cent from the income exemption out to $200 per week (before tax) and then an abatement rate of 70 per cent. The abatement system for work tested beneficiaries would have an abatement rate of 50 percent from the income exemption out to $130 per week (before tax) and then an abatement rate of 70 percent.

    Introduce an abatement system for the accommodation supplement which complements the dual abatement system recommended above.

    Provide job seekers and communities with more information and advice on local labour market, training and enterprise opportunities; on the benefits of registering with NZES or other relevant agencies, such as Workbridge; on the tax and benefit implications of taking up a particular job; on benefit entitlements; and on other sources of assistance. Full recognition should be taken of people's different learning styles through the creative use of different media.

    Ensure that there is adequate baseline information on the labour market, so that key developments in the labour market can be monitored and policy making is well supported by empirical data.

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