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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.30

    15 December, 1995

  • THE 30/30/40 LABOUR MARKET
    British economic columnist WILL HUTTON presents a challenging analysis of labour market trends.

    The major national programmes of the Community Employment Group (CEG) have been given notice that their funding from CEG will cease by June 1997. These measures effect the longer-term viability of the Be Your Own Boss programmes, Mainstreet, Business Grow, and the Mature Employment Services. These projects will either have their funding transferred to other government agencies (yet to be negotiated), or be forced to find "alternative sources of support".

    The CEG funding moves are part of a `refocussing' of this government agency as announced in the October jobs package. In effect, the refocussing means that CEG will become the government's primary mechanism for responding to the employment needs of the disadvantaged. CEG will target its funding on four priority groups: Maori, rural/urban disadvantaged communities, Pacific Islands communities and women. Over the next 18 months, the agency will free itself up from its national programme commitments in order to fund new initiatives that focus on these four groups.

    Wyatt Creech, in a letter to programme providers, says that the refocus will "... allow CEG to return to its original and proper role of kick starting new ideas. This involves providing short-term seeding funding for initiatives, rather than offering maintenance or long-term project funding..." The funding for the four national programmes will be capped at their present levels in order to give local agencies some security over the next 18-month period. The present funding however "may not necessarily go to the same organisations...".

    Source - Wyatt Creech to programme providers Oct/Nov 1995, and interviews with Regional Managers of CEG
    Just who picks up these soon-to-be-orphaned national programmes will be the slow-burning question over the next year. The refocussing of CEG lays a challenge at the doors of other government departments like Commerce, the Business Development Boards, ETSA, or NZES to step in and pick up programmes that perhaps fit better within their own workload.

    The local employment co-ordination committees are another initiative from the government's job package that is slowly getting into gear. The Department of Labour has advertised for two managers who will promote the concept of local co-ordination throughout New Zealand. They will be `high-profile' positions, reporting to the Secretary of Labour, and based in the Wellington Corporate Office. Their job will be to encourage the setting up of local groups, and provide advice and support.

    Applications closed last week, shortlisting will be a couple of weeks ... watch for appointments late January/early February.

    Source - ad in The Dominion 25 November 1995, plus interview with Irene Wright, Corporate Office of Department of Labour.
    The criteria for the Training Opportunities Programme (TOPS) has been opened up to let in more people. The scheme, aimed at long-term unemployed with no qualifications and few School Cert passes, has been heavily criticised by community groups over the last three years because of its tight eligibility criteria. The scheme has now been widened up to include domestic purposes and widow pension beneficiaries who have been on the benefit for a year and who have low qualifications; more young people; more long-term unemployed; and refugees and ex-prisoners.
    Source - The Dominion 5 December 1995 "Training opened up"
    Government plans to cut education and training allowances for 16-17-yr olds have been delayed, possibly for up to a year. The government hoped to have legislation in place by January 1st, but Parliament will not have enough time to pass the bill. The Youth Income Support Bill was supposed to cut education and training allowances for 16 and 17-yr olds, increase family support to families with children aged 16-17-yrs, and rename the unemployment benefit for people under 25-yrs as the `job-seekers allowance'.

    The Education Ministry estimates that about 1500 students aged 16-17 would now be able to get the allowances, but once the bill is passed next year, another 8,500 students still at school will not be able to get them.

    Source - The Dominion 23 November 1995 "Youths get reprieve on student allowances" by Cathie Bell
    A labour shortage is predicted for the Hawkes Bay. A public meeting last month in Hastings was told that 4000 extra seasonal staff would be needed to harvest pipfruit in the region by the year 2000. A massive increase in the size of the pipfruit crop is due to come on stream in the next few years, with output in the region growing from 12 million trays of pipfruit to 18 million by the year 2000. Some orchard and packhouse owners were already experiencing shortages, and a special taskforce has been set up to head off a critical shortage of workers. Proposals put forward at the public meeting included the provision of accommodation for the seasonal workers, and transport to and from the orchards.
    Source - The Dominion 23 November 1995 "Taskforce aims to head off labour shortage"
    Engineering firms in the Wellington region say that their biggest problem is a shortage of skilled workers. A survey, by TradeNZ and the Four Cities of Wellington Economic Development Group, highlights an acute shortage of electro-mechanical technicians, skilled computer aided design operators, pattern makers, and automatic lathe operators. The survey also identified vacancies for up to 75 skilled people.

    An earlier report by the Engineers Union found that 53% of workers surveyed did not receive on-the-job training from their employers.

    Source - The Dominion 29 November 1995 "Survey identifies skills shortage"
    Half the work done by Wellington City Council will be put out to public tender in the next 20 months, in a decision which could threaten the jobs of many of the council's 1500 workers. The council staff, organised into `business units' will be able to bid to keep doing the work they now do. But they will only keep their jobs beyond 1 July 1997 if their bids stack up against competing bids from the private sector.

    The City Voice reports that this policy was approved in a closed session at the last meeting of the outgoing Wellington City Council just before the October local body elections. Staff were told of the new policies a month ago.

    Source - City Voice 16 November 1995 "Council to tender half its work"
    The number of university graduates has more than doubled in the last nine years, according to a Vice-Chancellors' Committee report. There were 9565 graduates in 1986, and 19,327 this year, with females outnumbering males for the second year running. More than half the NZ graduates were `in employment', a 1.8% rise on last year. This continues a rising trend since 1992, when the proportion entering work (at 45%) was the lowest in a decade. Of the other NZ graduates, 25.6% were going on to further study, 8.3% were looking at overseas travel, and 13.1% were looking for work.
    Source - The Dominion 12 December 1995 "Graduate figure double that of nine years ago"
    Average hourly earnings for employees rose 2.7% to $15.68/hr in the year to August 1995. This is the biggest annual increase for four years. Statistics NZ
    Source - The Dominion 25 November 1995 Business Week column by Craig Howie
    The recent Woolworths staff agreement for two weeks' paid parental leave is seen as a breakthrough for campaigners for paid parental leave. The agreement covers 7000 of Woolworths workforce of 9000. The International Labour Organisation recommends that 12 paid weeks off be the minimum statutory provision for paid parental leave. New Zealand, the United States, Swaziland and Lesotho are the only UN members lacking any statutory provisions, while workers in all European Union countries are entitled to at least 14 weeks.

    In the Woolworths agreement, staff with more than a year's service who take three months off to care for newborn children are given a week's wage at the beginning of their leave, and another week's wages on their return to work.

    In NZ, while some private sector employers such as Levenes have made provisions, paid parental leave is much more prevalent in the public sector in places such as schools and hospitals. The Auckland Working Womens Resource Centre says that, in any year, an average of 2% of the workforce would be eligible. Both Labour and the Alliance have included the measures in their industrial relations policies, with Labour promising 6 weeks, and the Alliance 12 weeks.

    Source - New Zealand Herald 23 November 1995 "Woolworths staff gain paid parental leave" by Mathew Dearnaley.
    Human Rights Commissioner Ross Brereton believes that employers and workers should be preparing now for the end of compulsory retirement, which will be abolished from Feb 1st 1999 under the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1993. From this date, any mention of compulsory retirement in employment contracts will be unlawful. Mr Brereton says that employers need to look at alternative practises which will ease older workers into retirement, such as phased or partial retirement options.

    Age discrimination in employment became unlawful in February last year. In the past year the Human Rights Commission received 400 age-in-employment related enquires and investigated 17 formal complaints. Half the inquiries related to discrimination against workers over 50 yrs of age.

    Source - The Daily News 2 December 1995 "End of forced retirement nigh"

    Internet Bookmark : Draft Bills for Jobs from the US Congress
    An introduction to the agenda of the `'Progressive Caucus' of the US House of Representatives, who have outlined a legislative plan which is " ... rooted in the principles of social and economic justice, non-discrimination, and tolerance. " You can check out their draft bills, including the Job Creation and Invest in America Act of 1995, the Jobs for All Act and the Corporate Welfare Reduction Act of 1995.

    Send your Internet bookmarks to

    A manual for facilitators involved in local economic development (LED) has just been produced by former LED facilitator John Gutsell, and is being distributed by the Waitaki Small Business Enterprise Centre. It is a comprehensive overview of how to create a LED strategy for your area including an historical background to LED, how to develop the necessary conditions for LED, principles of facilitation, developing community strategies, and how to measure your efforts.

    The emphasis in the manual is summarised by its title: Partners in Process. Gutsell believes that although there have been many individuals working towards the economic development of their community, we are passing an important milestone where the necessity is on co-ordinating the efforts of all the stakeholders in LED government, community, private enterprise and inspiring them to work as partners in a development process. The Waitaki SBEC is planning to convene training workshops based on the material in this manual.

    Partners in Process, by John Gutsell ($85 incl GST) is available from the Small Business Enterprise Centre, P.O.Box 175, Oamaru phone 03-434-9751 fax 03-434-7561

    Christmas greetings to all our subscribers from all of us at the Jobs Research Trust.

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