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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.12

    6 March, 1995

    " The worrying feature is that nearly half of those on unemployment, domestic purposes, sickness and invalids benefits have been so for two years or more. These individuals face the greatest risk of being locked out of the recovery due to the deterioration of their work attachment ... "
    -- from Treasury papers, released last week under the Official Information Act.

    UN Global Warning : The International Labour Organisation ILO has just released a report that says the world is drifting into an unemployment crisis and calls on governments to work together to avert a major social disaster. The report says that 820 million people, or 30% of the global labour force, were without jobs or under-employed at the end of last year. The situation worldwide is the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930's and, without concerted action, the numbers of people out of work will swell rapidly ... increasing global social unrest. The report, called World Employment 1995, was prepared for this week's UN Social Summit in Copenhagen. It calls for a revival of post-World War II commitments by governments around the world to full employment : " This will provide the basis for the renewed international co-operation that is so essential for solving the employment crisis." The ILO wants the UN Summit to agree to plans for better integration of marginalised communities and states, in order to promote productive employment and the alleviation of poverty.
    Source --The Christchurch Press , 23/2/95, World faces employment crisis _ ILO, reuters

    The ILO's key steps to increasing jobs include : trade liberalisation, global co-operation to stabilise financial markets, the protection of economies from problems caused by the large increase in speculative currency flows, the encouragement of export-led industrial development, the improvement of labour markets through reduction of non-wage costs, reform of the benefit systems, and much wider worker re-training programmes.

    Source-- The Daily News, 23/2/95, ILO seeks word effort to restore full employment

    NZ is the first country outside Britain to get a branch of the Prince of Wales Trust which aims to help young people gain employment and training. The Prince's Trust, in Britain, is a large organisation with many volunteers and the active support of its patron, Prince Charles. As well as employment and training programmes, the Trust is active in many British environmental and community projects and has helped young people start new businesses.

    In New Zealand, the Prince's Trust will offer youth programmes in education, training, life-skills development and job creation. First up will be a volunteer programme which will take teams of 15 young people and put them through a 60-day course which includes practical training and life skills. Trust chief executive Peter Allen has told the Jobs Letter that they intend to work in co-operation with other sectors in the community, and not necessarily will set up their own facilities. They are setting up two pilot schemes - in Waitakere and South Auckland - in co-operation with the Ministry of Youth Affairs.

  • There are several other Prince's Trust programmes, which the NZ group plans to adapt to local needs and conditions once resources are available. Chairing the Trust is the Employer's Federation chief executive and Employment Taskforce member Steve Marshall who believes that its programmes "have the potential to answer many of the training challenges identified by the Employment Taskforce". He says the trust will establish and manage a capital fund with public and private contributions, enabling it to become financially independent.

    Foundation Trustees include Sir Howard Morrison, Bob Harvey (Mayor of Waitakere), Lieutenant Commander Dick Ryan and Mrs Sue Dalison Ryan (personal friends of Prince Charles).

    Work, the Labour Party newsletter on employment issues says that only 27% of placements by the Employment Service were in full-time work in the year to June 1994. In fact, NZES made more placements into jobs lasting for less than 10 days. Work also reports that figures from a Labour Department survey on the effects of the Employment Contracts Act reveal that the number of people employed on casual work may be as high as one in ten.

    Warnings on casual work from the Service Workers Union. They report many casual workers only getting as little as two hours of work a week, but are being threatened with the sack if they are not always available to work. Other casual workers are working much more than 40 hrs a week, which means they do not get overtime, or sick pay and can also be sacked at any time. Their `job' ended every time they were paid and they had no guarantees of future work. The union is considering taking a test case to the Employment Court for a ruling on how casual staff should be treated by employers.

    After years of complaint and submissions from community groups, it looks as though the government is going to seriously look at changing the rates at which welfare benefits abate when beneficiaries return to work. Treasury papers, obtained under the Official Information Act, advise government that the incentives for people to return to work are ineffective, and benefit abatement rates are acting as a potential disincentive.

    Treasury estimates that with high abatement rates, unemployment beneficiaries could take home only $2.70 an hour more than the dole in a 40-hr job. These rates have serious implications for beneficiaries wishing to take advantage of part-time or short-term work opportunities. The Treasury papers contained no recommendations, but say that reshaping the welfare system in favour of work was essential in meeting the government's broad social and economic goals. Watch for : announcements from Bill Birch on restructuring the abatement system.

    The Dominion 1/3/95 Abatement rates under study, Catriona MacLennan. The Christchurch Press , 28/2/95 Govt reviews benefit system to remove work disincentives, NZPA

    Remember the Employment Promotions Conference in 1985 ? Dr Jane Higgins of Lincoln University's Sociology Department believes there are some salutary lessons for us in 1995 as we consider the outcomes of the Employment Taskforce report. In an article in this month's NZ Political Review, Dr Higgins says that many of the themes and suggestions from the 1985 conference were similar to last years report, and "we should be alert to the fact that we are treading a well-worn path... "

    Dr Higgins : " The Employment Promotions Conference in 1985 presents us with a case study in a government's cavalier disregard for a consultation process that the community took entirely seriously. The ideas that people offered then for work-scheme reform and community involvement in employment development were swept away in a set of reforms that showed scant evidence that the government was prepared to return the courtesy..."

  • Dr Higgins is encouraged that the 1994 Taskforce has at least heard and supported many of the issues that have again been brought forward by the community - especially in its support for the role of local communities in finding local solutions to local problems. She is unclear, however , as to whether the proposed network of Local Employment Commissioners will be able to achieve this : " "The lines of control by, and accountability to, the government are very clear in this kind of proposal where a single officer appointed by government oversees and facilitates local developments. The lines of accountability back from government to the community are less clear..."

    Barnados has opened a free hotline to offer independent advice on social services. The Family Advocacy Information Resource Centre will be providing information on benefits, child support and legal rights. The hotline is based at Barnados national office in Wellington. The number is 0800 222 345.
    Christchurch Press, 6/3/95, Barnardos's line gives data on welfare, Anabright Hay

    Networking is the buzzword for searching for a job in the 1990's. Pam Gross and Peter Paskill of the US agency CareerMakers estimate that 65% of their clients end up in jobs that are not advertised - something they refer to as the `hidden job market'. They counsel jobseekers that the more people they know, and the more people who know they are looking for work, the more they increase their chances of finding or creating a job. Since managers don't want to spend time with the hiring process, the manager is likely to ask colleagues to suggest anyone who might fit the job description. If the manager is speaking to someone the jobseeker knows, then they may have a job lead.

    The old way of doing job search is to respond to newspaper ads by sending out resumes. This means that the jobseeker falls into the `stranger' category. CareerMakers : "Once a jobseeker understands that people do not want to hire strangers, it becomes their task to make a lot of new friends and notify the old ones that they are looking for work. Doing this in a structured way is called networking..."

    Source CareerMakers `New Way' job search methods are explained in the book Want a New Better Fantastic Job ? by Pam Gross and Peter Paskill (pub. RightSide Resources).

    International consultant Agnes Gannon last year spent six weeks in rural areas throughout NZ explaining her "Global Management Approach" to local economic and community development. Her approach to rural development is based on entrepreneurial development and the development of business skills. She accepts that agriculture is the cornerstone of rural development, but also sees the desirability of other types of economic activities, especially rural tourism, to broaden the economic base of rural areas.

    Paddy Twist, of the Rural Bulletin, says that her approach has several key features : (a) adopting an immersion type of training programme whereby people and communities learn by being involved in development projects; (b) stressing the importance of integrated sustainable development; and (c) ensuring community participation and ownership of the development process.

    Articles by Agnes Gannon and her rural development work are available from Paddy Twist, Editor of the Rural Bulletin, P.O.Box 2526, Wellington. Fax 04-474-4163

    Marketing analysts are tracking a significant rise in the `underclass' in NZ, according to AGB McNair's director Brian Milnes. Milnes told the National Business Review that in the population marketing analysis known as the target grouping system (Tags), the group referred to as `lonely and dissatisfied' has increased dramatically. In 1991 it represented 16% of the population. Today it was up to 24%.

    Milnes : "We are seeing an increasing polarisation, with more have-nots coming through the system. There is a perception that the economy is in recovery and things are getting better, but a growing number are hurting badly ..."

    Charles Handy would like to see the concept of `retirement' redefined as `The Third Age', being a third of a person's life. "A third of the population is over 55 and soon it will be half," he says in a recent Fortune article. "The word retirement should be banned. We as a society can't afford it."

    Handy says that people in their Third Age should stop thinking about retirement or taking a package at 55 as the beginning of leisure, but start thinking about two decades of another kind of work. His advice to aging baby boomers : "Look for customers, not bosses." Specifically, he sees education as a prime job opportunity for the young oldster : "In ten years, more education will take place outside of schools than inside..."

    US Secretary of Labour Robert Reich believes that nations with the best skilled workers will also have the strongest economies. He believes that technology will not necessarily an enemy to jobs - it depends on your level of education and skills. Reich is observing `a profound shift' in US labour patterns : skilled people are in demand and earn ever higher pay, while people without skills tumble down the wage ladder.

    Data shows that US real-income disparities between educated and uneducated workers have widened since the early 1980's, abetted by the technological revolution. Reich told Newsweek recently that "if you are well-educated, and appropriately skilled, technology is your friend. It enhances the value of your output. But if you lack the skills you need, technology is your enemy..."

    The Next Step Democracy Movement is seeking national referendums on the free market policies being pursued by government. They are using the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act to forge a referendum on six issues including full employment, benefit increases, promotion of public health, a fully funded education system, energy conservation and cuts in military spending.

    The employment question on the referendum is worded : " Should full employment with wages and conditions that are fair and equitable be the primary goal of government economic policy ? " Next Step has to get 10% of registered voters - about 230,000 people - to sign a petition within a year before the government will proceed with the referendum.

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