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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.14

    3 April, 1995

    -- a strange paradox of our times.

    Job Intro is the latest programme from NZ Employment aimed at giving young school-leavers workplace experience for up to a month. It is part of the Youth Action plan that is targeted at 18-yr olds who have been registered unemployed for more than 13 weeks. The employers are not required to pay the job-seekers, who will continue to receive the unemployment benefit.

    Job Intro comes with a massive PR push from NZ Employment with nationwide advertising and TV ads featuring photographer Anne Geddes, KT's Footwear's Karroll Brent-Edmondson, and the Warehouse's Stephen Tindall. Their target : 1800 school leavers to participate nationwide over the next 3-4 months. Already they have signed up some significant employers including NZ Post, Palmers Garden Centres and radio-stations nationwide.

    Source The Dominion, 18/3/95, Scheme to help young job-seekers, The Christchurch Press, 16/3/95 Govt plan offers young job seekers work experience
    "I don't think people realise how deflated young people get ... if they could show us what they can really do ... and they can't do that unless they are in the workplace. It's not all about CV's and resumes."
    -- Karroll Brent-Edmondson, General Manager of KT's Footwear.

    Just what's happened to last November's Employment Taskforce Report? Despite the actions of NZ Employment and Income Support in introducing new programmes and measures "...based on the Taskforce recommendations", the weekly multiparty meetings of Wyatt Creech, Steve Maharey and Jim Anderton are still continuing in Wellington, in their search for a multi-party accord for action. A spokesperson for the Minister of Employment tells The Jobs Letter that the weekly meetings are "making good progress", but no one can give us any firm completion date for these talks. Best guess: the end of April.

    Despite sitting at the negotiating table, Steve Maharey has taken the government to task for not allocating money in its budget policy statement last month to meet the cost of the Employment Taskforce recommendations. Maharey estimates the cost of the recommendations to be about $300 million. But, in the budget statement, the government's total allocation for new policies across all areas was only $200 million.

    Over the last couple of months, the PPTA has been embarking on an extensive campaign to promote the worthiness of the recommendations contained in the Employment Taskforce report, and to push for more resources for schools.

    The PPTA believes the Taskforce report represents a precious opportunity for action : "It provides a very rare opportunity to improve the life chances of NZ's young people. It is a blueprint for the future of education and training in this country ..." The PPTA plans to take their message to Schools Boards of Trustees, MP's, Businesses and Unions over coming weeks with the aim of promoting the Taskforce proposals, and developing a commitment from Government to resource the schools to enable them to make their contribution to the solutions.

    Meanwhile, in Australia, the action stage of their own Employment Taskforce exercise is in full swing with the Working Nation strategy for employment and economic growth in Australia. Paul Keating proposes to put 2.5 million unemployed people into training and subsidised work over the next four years.

    The strategy includes Job Compact, aimed at assisting long-term unemployed, and allowing employers providing accredited training to pay below-ward wages. The National Employment and Training Taskforce (NETFORCE) has also been established to decide on a programme of infrastructure spending and direct job growth. One of the major stated aims of Working Nation is to also change employer's attitudes towards using the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES), something the employers are apparently loathe to do.

    Australia's regional employment strategies are based on the creation of a national network of Area Consultative Committees (ACC) who have a government-appointed leadership similar to the NZ Taskforce proposals for a network of Employment Commissioners. A typical ACC committee comprises local employers, unions, community organisations and educational institutes. There is a large focus on helping local industries to forge better links with CES offices, but the ACCs are also involved in supporting the other Working Nation programmes - the Youth Training Initiative, the Entry Level Training Opportunities, and New Work Opportunities.

    Back in NZ, the Government has been reviewing all its enterprise and business assistance schemes in order to sort out its priorities for the future. Annette King last week released confidential papers obtained under the Official Information Act that showed that, last September, cabinet appointed two senior public servants to perform a `stocktake' of enterprise assistance schemes. The schemes, which presently cost the government $170 million, cover many agencies including the Community Employment Group, Business Development Boards, TradeNZ, the Tourism Board, and the Pacific Islands Business Development Trust.

    The review has been undertaken for the Cabinet committee on enterprise, industry and development by Labour Secretary John Chetwin and Commerce Secretary John Belgrave. It was due to report on March 31st, as this issue of the Jobsletter was going to press.

    Amidst this review, there is particular concern amongst local Enterprise Agencies for the future of Be Your Own Boss, Business Grow and Business Link funding at present administered through the Community Employment Group (CEG). Annette King believes that the future of CEG's major programmes is in doubt : "It looks as though they are going to hand everything to do with business over to Business Development Boards, and CEG's major `off the shelf' enterprise programmes will be handed over to the BDB's."

    King : "What we need is an integrated approach to enterprise assistance which combines CEG's flexibility with the business focus of the BDB's and which is based in partnership between central and local government, community and business. What we are getting is a thinly disguised hatchet job which hasn't taken into account the full picture..."

    Source New Zealand Herald, 27/3/95, Business schemes review
    Latest figures from NZ Employment for February was 68.084 people. This represented a drop of 6,575 people on the previous month, and 34,693 (or 17.1%) from a year ago.

    The good news in the figures is for government schemes which are targeted towards long-term unemployed people: the number of people out of work for more than 6 months have dropped 22.2%, and the longer-term unemployed (over 2 yrs) have dropped 23.7%.

    Source New Zealand Herald, 17/3/95, 17pcc drop in jobless, The Dominion, 17/3/95, Decrease in jobless figures continues
    The Community Funding Agency's National Needs Indicator Index was developed by Ernst and Young to help target the $92.8 million of funding it allocates to community and iwi-based groups which provide social and welfare services. Most of the information in the Index comes from the census. The agency says it is a unique way to give population-based weighting to seven predictors of social and welfare needs, and it provides them with `a nationally consistent comprehensive measure'.

    The seven indicators in the Index are: unemployment, the percentage of Maori and Pacific Islanders in the population, the percentage on Income Support, the number of single parents with dependent children, the number of multi-family households, the degree of isolation and the cost of housing.

    Developed by Ernst and Young for the Community Funding Agency

    The East Coast

    Central North Island

    `Reinventing Government' is the catch-cry Jim Bolger heard last week while being hosted at the White House. Bolger was not surprised to find NZ's economic experiences being praised as the sort of reforms that the US should follow. A group of US senators and Congressmen is expected to visit NZ soon, to see the reforms for themselves.

    Meanwhile, Republican congressmen are pushing forward with their own welfare-shrinking programme which promises to go much further than NZ conservatives could ever dream possible. The Republican package is being described as a radical change away from the style of welfare system introduced to the US by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal during the 1930's Great Depression.

    Under consideration in Washington : limiting benefit entitlements to two years, which will force people to either take work or go on job schemes; refusing benefits to solo mothers if they have additional children after going on welfare; limiting benefits to immigrants; denying unmarried mothers under 18 any cash assistance; and capping childcare programmes and school lunch programmes.

    Source New Zealand Herald, 27/3/95, PM expects welfare focus in US, The Dominion, 27/3/95,Bolger takes cautious line on welfare

  • Expect to hear the term `Reinventing Government' much more in this country. It is the key philosophical platform for Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party's reformation of their own public sector. NZ'ers are very familiar with this philosophy ... we know it as `Rogernomics'. Bill Clinton says that every elected official in America should read the blueprint for these reforms - contained in the American best-selling book Reinventing Government by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler. New Zealand's story of privatisation and economic reform is often quoted in the book as a successful example of change.
    Source Reinventing Government, by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, (1983) published by Plume, a division of Penguin Books.

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