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Essential Information on an Essential Issue
8 January, 1996
- BUSINESS LEADERS TO DISCUSS SKILLED WORKER SHORTAGE
Auckland business leaders are meeting this month to develop a plan of action over
skill shortages. This follows a survey of 5000 Auckland companies by the Auckland Business
Development Board (BDB) in which 45% reported skills shortages affecting their businesses.
BDB Manager Neville Collett says that the survey was conducted because industry leaders had
been telling the government for months of a worsening problem, but did not have any hard
supporting evidence of the skills shortages. The BDB says there was little evidence that shortages
would decline in the short-term, and they fear a tighter labour market for skilled workers will
hamper employment growth, inflation targets and overall economic performance.
Although the businesses in the survey identifying skill shortages were more likely to
be involved in all types of training and education initiatives, the survey found that overall
participation in external training and industry training organisations was low.
- CTU President Ken Douglas says that a national training strategy was needed now
to guarantee a skilled workforce in 10 years time. he says that the BDB survey shows that the
government had no viable industry training strategy, which, in his view, is because the government
is relying on the voluntary participation of employers.
Source - New Zealand Herald 29 December 1995 "Alarm grows over skill shortage in workforce" by Mathew Dearnaley
- POLYTECHS DROPPING COURSES
Despite skills shortages in areas like the construction industry, the Association of
Polytechnics says that a squeeze on training costs is forcing smaller polytechs to drop courses. Jim
Doyle, the Association's director, predicts that the number of polytech carpentry courses around NZ
will be halved in the next two years. He says that although this will save taxpayers money and
demand a greater efficiency from the surviving course providers ... it will also shift costs on to students
in small towns who will have to travel to the main centres for their training.
The Polytech Association is critical of the contracting system for off-the-job
training, whereby the government gives money to industry training organisations (ITOs), which
then choose their training providers from polytech bids. A report by Southland Polytech CEO
David Kerr describes this system as a "mock tender round". Kerr says that the ITOs were using
their position as monopoly buyers to force down the cost of training. He predicts that over the
next three years the government will reduce the amount of money available and "...the cost of
provision will be beaten down to a bare minimum and be beyond what all but a few can provide
the service for."
Source - The Dominion 29 December 1995 "Polytech courses may bear brunt of squeeze" by Andrew Laxon
- TREASURY'S UNEMPLOYMENT PREDICTIONS
Treasury says the unemployment rate will drop to 5% by 1998, compared to the 6.3%
now. In figures released as part of Bill Birch's December economic update, Treasury expects
employment growth to be at 2.6%, and says the number of jobs will pick up in the second half of 1996
as tax cuts generate more consumer spending and production.
Treasury predicts an extra 300,000 people to join the workforce each year. About half the
increase is expected to come from population growth, a third from immigration, and the rest
from those presently not working. They expect the workforce participation rate to rise only 1%
to 66% of the working age population.
Source - The Dominion 14 December 1995 "Unemployment tipped to drop to 5pc by 1998"
- BERL'S UNEMPLOYMENT PREDICTIONS
Economic forecasters BERL are predicting a 4.1% unemployment rate by the year
2000. Its latest Monthly Monitor says that the workforce will grow an average of 0.6% a year.
BERL predicts that this growth will slow after the year 2000, as pressures on prices and the balance
of payments lead to lower growth.
Source - The Dominion 28 December 1995 "Berl predicts 4% u employment by the year 2000" by James Weir
- ACC WORK TESTS
As many as 14,000 long-term ACC claimants could be pushed off the scheme over the
next five years, after the government introduction of work tests. Cabinet papers, obtained by
the Dominion under the Official Information Act, indicate that long-term claimants could be
halved under the work-tests, saving the ACC about $250 million by the year 2000 or a third of what
it costs them now.
The ACC has a `tail' of about 26,000 people who have been on weekly compensation for
more than a year. Graeme Speden of the Dominion reports that these people are the most
expensive group for the ACC, accounting for about two-thirds of the weekly compensation bill. The
Cabinet papers predict that under the new regime of work tests, about 14,000 current claimants
will be forced off the scheme. While most are expected to "go back to work", a number are
expected to end up on social welfare benefits or on government-funded employment schemes ... at a
cost that will be much smaller than continuing the ACC payments.
Source - The Dominion 29 December 1995 "Move to push 14,000 off ACC" by Graeme Speden
- TEACHERS FROM BRITAIN
The Education Ministry is embarking on a recruitment drive in Britain to hire up to a
hundred primary teachers just weeks before the start of the school year. The shortage is most acute
in Auckland and in rural areas such as Northland. The drive to fill these positions with New
Zealand and Australian teachers has failed, and the Ministry says it has "scraped the barrel dry".
The government has issued a hundred special two-year work permits, and a $3000 teacher
relocation package that includes airfares, a week's accommodation and an induction course.
This teacher shortage comes just a few years after teacher colleges cut their intakes
because of growing teacher unemployment. NZ Educational Institute secretary Rosslyn Noonan told
the Dominion that just a few years ago large numbers of teacher graduates had left the
profession forever because there were no jobs for them. She says the government had erred in arguing
these people would be available to teaching later, rather than finding them temporary positions
and promoting to full-time as the positions became available. Noonan: "...the shortages are in part
a product of leaving everything to the market's supply and demand. This was an inadequate
response when a long lead-in time is involved."
Source - The Dominion 27 December 1995 "NZ seeks teachers from Britain" by Sarah Catherall and Alan Samson
- HOW EMPLOYERS HANDLE REDUNDANCIES
Despite the economic recovery, redundancies are still very much a threat to large sections
of the workforce. A survey by the law firm Russell McVeagh on how employers deal with
redundancy shows that 52% of the surveyed organisations, and 86% of those employing more than
500 workers, laid off workers in the past two years. The survey also showed that when it comes
to redundancy, workers on collective contracts (rather than individual contracts) were more likely
to get better notice and compensation from redundancy, better objective tests of which staff
lose their jobs, and a better consultations and discussion of the alternatives to redundancies such
as relocation, redeployment or retraining.
Source - PSA Journal, December 1995 "Union deals best on redundancy: survey."
- CHARLES HANDY ON DOWNSIZING
Charles Handy has written a new book Beyond Certainty: The Changing Worlds
of Organisations (pub Hutchinson). One of his more interesting and critical observations is of a
new management mantra which he sums up in the equation: "½x2x3" half the people on
the payroll, paid twice as much, and producing three times the output.
Source - "Just the Jobs" by Bob Tyrell review of Handy book in New Statesman and Society
1 September 1995
A new British survey of working hours shows that two thirds of British workers work
40 hours or more, with a quarter working more than 50 hours. The survey was taken by the
recruitment agency Austin Knight, and polled 22 organisations with a million white collar
workers. Three quarters of those people questioned said that continual long hours was affecting
them physically and many said they were being made sick enough to make them stop working.
According to 90% of the employees, the long hours were also reducing performance and lowering
morale, and undermining any productivity gains of the extra time at work.
The survey revealed that the longest hours were being worked by men 81% of men put in
40hr or more compared to 56% of women. And 37% of men worked 50 hrs or more compared
with 13% of women. But women were by no means better off... the survey also revealed that
working women were three times more likely to be divorced or separated than working men, and
two thirds of women in senior posts said they worked long hours.
Boris Johnson, writing in the Weekly Telegraph comments: "Yes, the British work harder
or rather they spend longer hours at work than any other nation in Europe. But we don't
see our children all day. Our eyes are strained from goggling at the visual display unit. We drink
so much coffee we start getting twitchy, and some of us have apparently even taken to the
ridiculous practice of `power napping' in quiet corners and even having pizza there... perhaps we
should wise up to the difference between hours of work and productivity..."
Source - The Weekly Telegraph November 1995 "Jobs agency gives `too long hours warning" and "Do we have to work
these crazy hours?" by Boris Johnson.
- PREFERRING A SHORTER WORK WEEK
A survey done in 1989 revealed that 80% of Americans would sacrifice career
advancement in order to spend more time with their families. Juliet Schor, author of The Overworked
American (pub Harper Collins) says that we need to establish time as a value in itself independent of
its price "... that it can no longer be readily substituted for money."
Schor calculates that if the rises in real income due to better productivity were shared with
workers, and if those workers took time off, rather than more money, then the average
American worker could, after ten years, be working 600 fewer hours per year on a 5hr workday. In
other words, they could either work 5 hrs a day, or take two months more of holidays per year,
or spend a term each year in furthering their education, or take more time with their partners
or families, enjoy the arts, or volunteering on community projects.
Source - Juliet Schor, The Overworked American, as quoted in Mathew Fox, Re-inventing Work
- FRENCH PM PLEDGES ACTION ON JOBS
In France, amidst social unrest, strikes and demonstrations against proposals for
welfare reform, Mr Juppe, the French Prime Minister, has announced limited measures to boost
consumer spending, revive the economy and fight unemployment. The priority for action will be
youth unemployment, with proposals to 250,000 jobs for young people this year. Juppe also will
continue talks aimed at reducing working hours, and helping French workers in early retirement.
It remains to be seen whether these measures will help reconcile the huge political and
social divisions throughout France over economic policies, or will only be `window-dressing' that
will die for the lack of real resources. Mr Juppe and President Jacques Chirac came to power
last May, on an election platform calling for bold reforms to stimulate the economy and to find
inventive solutions to their unemployment crisis, which, at 11.8% is one of the highest in the
OECD. After the election, however, the French leaders did a jolting reverse of these proposals and
instead brought in a two-year programme of belt tightening in order to shrink the government's
huge deficits. Their new priority: to meet the strict monetary and budgetary requirements needed
to join Europe's single currency system by 1999.
Just before Christmas, Mr Juppe was voted extraordinary powers by the National Assembly
which will enable him to legislate by decree, short-circuiting Parliament, and ensuring that new taxes
to pay off the welfare systems debts can be levied from January 1st 1996.
Source - New Zealand Herald 23 December 1995 "Mixed views of summit", New Zealand Herald 21 December 1996
"Govt goes on with reforms", and Time 11 December 1995 "Is this a crossroads or the edge of a cliff?" by Thomas Sancton
- GREEN DOLLARS ON THE INTERNET
Internet Bookmark : Green Dollars
New Zealand and Australia have over 300 LETS the Local Employment and Trading
Systems which are using their own `local' money commonly known as green dollars. These groups have
a very lively national networks on both countries, with inter-group newsletters (Ozlets and the
NZ Green Dollar Quarterly) and have long had a presence on the internet.
From this Australian home page you can view articles from Ozlets newsletter, access
various research projects (such as those by Mark Jackson, a visitor in recent years to many NZ
green dollar groups). You can download computer software packages and manuals which will
enable you to get your own local groups started. And there are links to LETS groups around the
world. Check out http://www.u-net.com/gmlets/home.html for an overview of LETS
systems, local currencies and the future of money by Michael Linton, the Canadian founder of the
green dollar concept.
- CAN EMPLOYERS ADVERTISE FOR `EXPERIENCE'?
The Human Rights Commission has advised that employers requiring job applicants to
have a certain number of years experience for a position, may be contravening the provisions
against age discrimination in the Human Rights Act. Although this advice has yet to be tested in court,
it is understood that if it is formally upheld, it would apply to all job advertisements which said
that experience was required.
The Commission advice was given on the new Journalist Training Organisation rules that
require journalism teachers to have at least five years experience. The organisation has altered its rules
to say that five years experience is "preferred".
Source - The Dominion 21 December 1995 "Job ads prompt warning on rights"
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