Essential Information on an Essential Issue
27 November, 1995
- JOBS and the ARTS
The Artwork² arts and employment advocacy group.
- UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
The official unemployment figures now stand at 107,000 people or 6.1% the
lowest figures since December 1988, and considerably better than any forecasters were predicting.
We include a special insert on the employment statistics with this issue of the Jobs Letter.
Auckland is the biggest creator of jobs, adding 33,300 new jobs over the last year.
Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Malborough, Tasman,
and the West Coast have all recorded rises in unemployment levels in the last three months.
The rate of unemployment among Maori and Pacific Islanders is still a concern. The
Maori rate is 15.1% and the Pacific rate is 14.1%, with the European rate at 4.3%.
Employment Minister Wyatt Creech is expecting the drop in unemployment to slow
in coming months. He reiterates that the government's employment policy has shifted to
concentrating on the `problem areas', especially the differences in employment between different
ethnic groups. He says that the lower the unemployment rate became, the harder it was to push it
down, because those left tended to be `more difficult to employ'. Growth on its own will not solve
the problems for those groups, and Creech says there was a need for active employment policies
such as those announced in last month's employment package.
Other political commentary: Steve Maharey believes we should shift the focus away
from the fall in unemployment on to the quality of employment, saying that many NZers were
concerned about the quality and security of their jobs. Jim Anderton says the figures confirmed
that the government, Treasury and the Reserve Bank had decided that about 6% unemployment
would be maintained in order to counteract inflation.
Source - The Dominion 21 November 1995 "Fall in jobless will slow soon - Creech"
- UNEMPLOYMENT NO.1
Despite the overall drop in joblessness during the past two years and last month's
release of the employment package unemployment still stands out as the main concern of voters. In
a specially commissioned poll by the New Zealand Herald, unemployment ranked number one
in opinions as the single most important issue facing New Zealand. Ranked second was Race
Issues, 3rd was Health and 4th Education.
Source - New Zealand Herald 15 November 1995 "Poll shows voters worry about jobs"
- JOB ADS SLOW
The increase in the number of jobs is not being reflected in any similar increase in
the number of job advertisements. The household labour force survey shows a remarkable increase
in employment growth of 1.2% compared to a market expectation of 0.5%. The ANZ job
advertisements monitor however records a slowing down of job advertisement growth, and
predicts that this trend will continue.
Source - Vivian Hutchinson interview with Bernard Hodgetts of ANZ Job Ads Focus 21 November 1995
- DROP IN UNEMPLOYMENT SEEN TO BE THREAT TO INFLATION
The downside of the good jobs figures is to be found in Reserve Bank concerns
about inflation. Economists are predicting that the Reserve Bank will halt its easing up of
monetary conditions because the lower jobless figures may lead to competition for higher wages,
thereby threatening a growth in inflation. David Plank of the Bankers Trust believes that the
Reserve Bank would now be reluctant to accept any further reductions in interest rates this year.
Source - The Daily News 21 November 1995 "Interest rate cut unlikely after lower jobless news"
- MYERS SAYS EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS ACT PRODUCES JOBS
In an article in the Dominion, Business Roundtable chairman Doug Myers says that
the Employment Contracts Act and labour market reform has been the positive foundation for
NZ's job creation. He warns political parties to compare NZ's example with that of Australia,
which does not have a similar Employment Contracts Act. He observes that Australia has enjoyed
a similar economic recovery but not the same job growth. Myers: "Australia's experience
has proven beyond doubt that labour laws which confer privileges on unions and entrench rigid
employment arrangements condemn outsiders to the misery of unemployment. They also
breed conflict and inefficiency, instead of co-operation and more productive working arrangements
..." The Business Roundtable believes that if the Employment Contracts Act is not tampered
with, and present economic conditions maintained, unemployment could fall to 4% by 1998/99.
Source - The Dominion 22 November 1995 "Jobless rate falls" by Doug Myers
- MEDIA OPPOSE WORK SCHEMES
Our media watch reports several newspaper editorials warning the government off
creating special work schemes at this time of `impressive' job creation. The New Zealand Herald,
for example, talks of `no end of work': "All NZers willing to work ought to be able to find a job
of genuine value in a successful economy. Genuine value means the employee knows the work
is worth remunerating, that it has not been created simply for the sake of such self-worth as
an employee is supposed to find in work for which nobody would really pay for or which
plainly offers too little to do.
"NZ had many thousands of people under-employed in public or subsidised sectors not so
long ago ... the country ceased the pretence in 1984 and began to employ its labour and capital
only in activities of real market value. A realisation should be dawning by now that the only limit
to employment in a free market is the capital and labour available..."
Source - editorial in the New Zealand Herald 22 November 1995 "No end of work"
- TRANSITIONAL EDUCATION CENTRES OUT
The government says it will stop funding transition education centres for `youth at risk'
in Christchurch, Invercargill and Whangarei from 1997. The centres offered courses in
communications, job-seeking, career planning, interviewing, and CV writing as well as self-esteem
and leadership training and were aimed at students whom schools considered were at a high risk
of dropping out of the education system. The future funding for such programmes will be
allocated on a per-capita basis to secondary schools, who could either fund the centres themselves,
or contract this transition education out to other providers.
Christchurch's Pitcaithly House is one of the centres that will be losing its funding. It has
provided short courses to more than 1000 secondary school pupils from most Christchurch
high schools. House director Carole Petrie says the centre will close, despite Education
Ministry claims that it could continue as a private provider if it won contracts from schools. Petrie
believes the schools will not be provided with enough resources to be able to afford to buy services
Source - Evening Standard 10 November 1995 " Government ignores youth at risk with funding cuts"
- COUNSELING AS A PROFESSION
Delegates at the inaugural `Careering 95' conference for Career Counseling in
Hamilton earlier this month, are starting to put in place measures to more clearly define career
counseling as a profession in NZ. The conference brought together industry representatives, private
practitioners, government employees, school counsellors and administrators and addressed issues
such as training and accreditation of career counsellors. A career industry group has been set up
to develop national career industry standards as a part of the Qualifications Framework.
Careering 95 convenor Rosemary Barrett says that delegates discussed the recent restructuring
of government career information and guidance services (see last issue). She says the review
clearly omits any government funding of career counselling, except for targeted disadvantaged
groups. Barrett: "Delegates felt the profession was seen to be in danger because organisations
which purchase career counselling services generally lack the expertise to judge what is and what is
not good career counselling..."
Source - fax from Rosemary Barrett 17 November 1995
- BRITAIN CONTRACTS OUT CAREERS ADVICE
In Britain, government careers advice services have also been contracted out to
private providers. In London, one of the country's largest private firms, Grand Metropolitan, has won
the contract. Questions however are being asked about the quality of this careers advice, given
that one of Grand Met's wholly owned subsidiaries is Burger King. The PSA Journal notes that
this fast food chain pays some of its young employees as little as one pound ($2.43) a day.
Source - PSA Journal November 1995 "Gizza job"
- COLLECTING 245,000 SIGNATURES TOO HARD
The Next Step Democracy Movement has felt that the task of collecting 245,000
signatures on its six-question referendum proposal was too great. They were particularly disheartened
when the Clerk of the House disallowed a third of the RSPCA referenda petition on battery hen
farming, after finding signers did not sign the forms according to the strict criteria. As a result,
the Next Step group has dropped four of its questions (including the one on full employment) and
is concentrating only the health and education questions in order to reach their target.
Source - Next Step Democracy Movement campaign update November 1995
- WORKING OFF-FARM
Nearly a third of NZ farming families have at least one person working off-farm to bring
in extra income. Researchers Nicholas Taylor and Heather McCrosties Little have published a
special report Means of Survival? that surveyed the Oxford, Ashburton and Gore areas.
The report concludes that off-farm employment will continue to be an important component of
farming finances. Women were found to be primarily involved in off-farm employment. Their
reasons: to maintain a basic level of income for the farm, to protect the entity of their family farm, and
to build their own careers.
Source - Straight Furrow 6 November 1995 "Off-farm employment here to stay"
- KELSEY BOOK QUESTIONS NZ ECONOMIC `SUCCESS' STORY
Jane Kelsey's new book The New Zealand Experiment was launched in
Auckland during the recent CHOGM conference. With NZ's neo-liberal economic theories being
proclaimed as an international success story, and promoted by the World Bank and other international
economic agencies as a model for the rest of the world to follow, Kelsey's book tries to
persuade policy-makers to firmly reject such advice. The New Zealand Experiment challenges claims
of the NZ `success' story, and examines what this `success' means for economic life,
government, and social well-being in NZ today.
Kelsey: " Whatever the economic outcomes, the country and many of its people are a great
deal worse off. Unemployment and poverty have become structural features of NZ life. The number
of NZers estimated to be living below the poverty line rose by about 35% between 1989 and
1992. By 1993, one in six NZers was considered to be living in poverty. Even if unemployment
returns to the level of the mid-1980s still very high by NZ's historical standards poverty and
hardship are expected to remain about the same. Both National and Labour have ignored the
political, economic and human costs of these social indicators ..."
The New Zealand Experiment: A World Model for Structural Adjustment? by Jane Kelsey
published by the Auckland University Press with Bridget Williams Books. $39.95 Kelsey's book
is also being published in London under the title of Economic Fundamentalism: Structural
Adjustment in New Zealand.
- ANGLICANS DISCUSS THE `UNDERCLASS'
The Anglican Church believes that more than half of all beneficiaries will not gain
from changes to the amount people earn while on benefits. Representatives at their recent
Common Life Conference at Ngaruawahia expressed `grave concerns' about a growing `underclass'
of beneficiaries and low-waged workers in the communities they served. The conference
discussed the British Rowntree report which showed that the gap between rich and poor had grown faster
in NZ than in the 17 other developed countries studied.
Anglican social justice commissioner Jim Greenaway calls for `positive discrimination'
through the proposed tax cuts to benefit those most in need. Greenaway: " The church has been
very involved in the 10% of the population who can be described as the poor. The tax cuts, as
proposed, won't be used to lift up that 10% as we believe they should..."
Source - The Dominion November 1995 "Church concern about `growing underclass'"
- BUILDING ITO LOBBIES FOR FUNDING
The Building Industry ITO continues its fight for more government resources (see
last issue). ITO chief executive Trevor Allesbrook says that a $2m shortfall in funding next
year would result in a 40% drop in apprenticeship numbers. He also says that funding cuts by
ETSA effecting carpentry courses could force many apprentices to abandon their courses.
Allesbrook says that collectively, the ITOs had bid for funding of $100m, but ETSA had told them that
only $53m was available: "We and other ITOs facing major reductions in the amount of funding
have tried to point out to ETSA that the methodology is flawed and that we just can't manage
under this new arrangement..."
Education Minister Lockwood Smith disputes these claims of under-funding. He says that
the Building Industry ITO has been allocated a 120% increase in funding for 1996.
Source - The Dominion 21 November 1995 "Cuts will affect apprentices - ITO" and The Dominion 22 November
1995 "Funding crisis disputed"
What are the government's back-up plans for funding industry training if employers do not
come forward with their funding contribution?
What arts and cultural projects would bring your place alive, and create local jobs?
" Labour spokesman Steve Maharey, searching for something to criticise, clutched at the
"quality" of jobs being filled. But the important thing, surely, is to give people a toe-hold in real jobs and
let them build from there, not encourage them to turn up their noses because some jobs lack
— editorial in The Dominion 22 November 1995
" Unemployment has declined to 6.1%, third lowest in the developed world, and is fast
becoming an ethnic (and educational) rather than an economic problem ..."
— editorial in the New Zealand Herald 22 November 1995
"The message is very clear: even if the NZ economy has shown some signs of recovering, many
of the people have not..."
— Jane Kelsey, The New Zealand Experiment
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