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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.33

    10 February, 1996

    Environmental activist Warren Snow talks about how we can use recycling to create jobs and build community while we help the environment

    The Australian Government of Paul Keating began its re-election campaign earlier this month with a $209 million youth employment package promising all 15 - 19 year olds the chance of employment, training or education by the year 2000. With the present youth unemployment rate at more than 30%, Keating says his proposals will reduce this rate to 5% by the year 2000.

    The Australian proposals sound very similar to measures advocated in the original NZ Employment Taskforce report. The promises include : more `individual' help to school-leavers looking for jobs, more training places, more encouragement for employers to take on school pupils as part-time trainees, programmes to teach business skills in schools, and assistance to help 1000 young unemployed to set up their own businesses.

    Source - New Zealand Herald editorial 1 February 1996 "Australia's drop-outs" also New Zealand Herald column "Australia Today" by Greg Ansley "Keating homes in accurately on teens' hopes for good life.

    The ANZ Bank's monthly survey of job advertisements shows a sharp drop in job ads in January, continuing a slowing trend in the rate of job advertisement growth. The Bank says: "...this reinforces our belief that employment activity slowed during the last quarter of 1995, and we expect it to continue doing so throughout the first half of 1996."
    Source - New Zealand Herald 5 February 1996 "Employment growth is continuing to slow"

    The debate on immigration and its effects on local employment and training is starting to heat up, especially after the government has just announced a new point-system for assessing immigration applicants to this country. NZ First leader Winston Peters says that immigration to NZ should be cut back to the bone. Peters: " is fundamental that we stop using immigration as an excuse for failure to train our own people to take up opportunities that the wealth of this country gives them as a birthright."

    Immigration Minister Roger Maxwell claims that there would be a severe skills shortage in NZ if immigrants were refused entry. He told the Daily News says that about 70% of migrants met demanding criteria under general business categories "... criteria that most NZ'ers would not meet," according to Maxwell. "While there are more NZ'ers unemployed than we would like, many of these people do not have the skills employers are seeking. On the other hand most migrants are highly skilled."

  • Among the changes to the immigration policies announced by the Minister: giving more recognition of a firm job offer to the migrant; giving trades and technical qualifications equal emphasis to professional qualifications; and requiring professionals in 25 different occupations to be registered with their relevant statutory body before their qualifications count for points (a move that is expected to reduce the number of doctors applying).
    Source - New Zealand Herald 1 February 1996 "Govt posts pass mark for new migrants" by Paul Gregory, also The Daily News 2 February 1996 "Slash immigration to make NZ user-friendly, says Peters", and The Daily News 3 February 1996 "Only immigrants prevent country facing sever skills shortage, says Maxwell".

    Amidst the current contradiction of high unemployment and skill shortages, there is a call for Government agencies to be gathering better information on what particular jobs are going to be needed in the future. In an article in Wellington's City Voice, Simon Collins reports that in some fields where training is available and employers are desperate for people, trainees can't be found. His example: a Hutt Valley Polytech could not fill all is places on its computer-aided design (CAD) course, despite local firms complaining of a lack of CAD operators.

    Careers Service official Mark Casson told City Voice that although the Service was there to give people advice on what occupations might suit them and what training is required ... the Service does not predict how much demand there is likely to be for any particular occupation in the future. Economist Dennis Rose has been involved in making computer projections of occupational growth for the economic forecasting group BERL. He recommends that the Careers Service includes such projections in its own advisory materials.

    Rose cites an example of a comprehensive system of careers information supplied by the US government, which produces a 500-page handbook every two years with information on the nature of about 250 occupations, their pay and conditions, the training required, and the job outlook ahead.

    Source - City Voice 25 January 1995 "Training for What ?" by Simon Collins

    Polytechs, universities and teachers colleges are re-examining their practices of reserving places for Maori and Pacific Island students after a tribunal ruling against it. The Complaints Review Tribunal says the Nelson Polytech breached the Human Rights Act, the Race Relations Act, and the Human Rights Commission Act when it reserved places on a fishing cadet course for Polynesian students.

    The tribunal ruled that the polytech had failed to give a Nelson man, Craig Nelms, a place on the course on the grounds of his race. The Nelson fishing company Amaltal took the action against the polytech.

  • The fishing course was a part of a programme run by the ETSA training agency. It is aimed specifically at Maoris and Pacific Islanders, and replaces the earlier Maori trade training scheme. The Human Rights Act allows for educational institutions to restrict entry to courses on the basis of race, but only if a special need for discrimination can be established. At the tribunal, the Nelson Polytech did not produce such evidence, saying that it was not appropriate for it to be "drawn into the issue" of whether Maoris and Pacific Islanders needed such assistance. The tribunal rejected the polytech's arguments that ETSA funding for the course justified discrimination.

    ETSA has asked the Crown Law Office for advice on the decision, and have been told that the Nelson ruling does not set a precedent for future courses. The Law Office advised that such courses were legal if they were provided to assist groups shown to need help to gain an equal place in the community. ETSA's general manager, Max Kerr, says the ruling did not threaten other courses that ran with restricted places that were legally justified.

    Source - New Zealand Herald 2 February 1996 "Ruling forces review of positive discrimination" by Shenagh Gleeson and The Dominion 3 February 1996 "Race ruling not a precedent - officials"

    More than one in five public servants left their job last financial year, up 20% on the previous year. The PSA describes the turnover rate (of 21.4%) as evidence of a retention crisis in the public sector "...caused by Government underfunding." PSA President Tony Simpson says that management theory states that a turnover rate of 10% represents a crisis for any organisation. Simpson: " The turnover figures offered alarming proof that the government could not hold on to its most important resource skilled competent staff."
    Source - New Zealand Herald 29 January 1996 "Civil staff turnover soars"

    Auckland economist Keith Rankin estimates that NZ nuclear families in 1995 need to commit about 70 hrs to the market economy in order to maintain the relative living standards that could have been bought, in the 1960s, with 40 hrs work. In an article in the Nov/Dec NZ Political Review, Rankin says that "the entire economic growth in NZ in the 1990s can be explained by increased hours of paid and unpaid work, by an attempt to escape money impoverishment by burdening ourselves with time impoverishment..."

  • The over-worked may have escaped money poverty, according to Rankin, but they have taken on the burden of time poverty of having little quality time for themselves and their families. "A time-poor society is one that does not value non-market activity and does not give priority to leisure time. Leisure is never `mere leisure'. Leisure also includes our personal life-projects eg writing, poetry, restoring old motorbikes, climbing mountains, and participation in sport ..."

  • Time poverty doesn't just relate to the hours that we normally cede to our employers or clients. Rankin also includes in this definition the hours we commit to making ourselves employable, seeking employment (or additional employment), getting to work or `blobbing out' from the pressures of work. Rankin: "Overwork has emerged as a considerable surprise, given our success during the early part of the century in reducing hours of work, and the still strongly-held belief that labour-saving technology must eliminate work and create leisure..."
    Source - NZ Political Review Nov/Dec 1995 "Working Our Lives Away" by Keith Rankin

    This site is a good example of how the internet can be used to find a job ... turning every home computer connected to the internet into an employment agency! While this example is tailored to executive recruitment and contractors in the computer field ... one can only imagine the usefulness of an agency like New Zealand Employment putting their database of jobs online in a similar manner.

    Compuforce was NZ's first recruitment company to have its own home page in the internet. From this site, job applicants can search the different positions available, and also browse a table of NZ salary statistics that are relevant to the jobs being offered. Compuforce is part of the Morgan & Banks group of recruitment companies. There are plans to enable job applicants to enter their own `skill sets' which can be matched to relevant local and international job offers.

  • Morgan and Banks co-founder Andrew Banks envisages a day when very few jobs will be advertised in newspapers, as most will be posted electronically on the internet. He believes that organisations with a very good database will effectively become a stock exchange between candidates and companies looking to hire. Banks: "This will dramatically speed up the process of applying for and being selected for a job ..."

    A new US business report shows that women now own one third of all America's domestic businesses, and have become a big force in the US national economy. The study, by the National Women's Business Council, says that the huge growth in woman-owned companies was "... one of the principal driving forces behind economic growth and job creation in our nation today."

    Despite these advances, the report shows that women-owned businesses face significant obstacles, including limited access to capital, difficulty in competing for government contracts and lack of information on where to get assistance. "Women often complain that investment bankers and other sources of investment capital do not take their business efforts seriously ..."

    Source - The Dominion 31 January 1996 "One-third of US domestic businesses owned by women."

    "It is labour supply, rather than labour productivity that is the main driving force of economic growth in recent years. People are producing more on average now, but working longer hours to do it. And many people in professional employment are working longer hours without pay ..."
    --Keith Rankin, Auckland University economics historian, quoted in North and South.

    "We are speeding up our lives and working harder in a futile attempt to buy the time to slow down and enjoy it..."
    -- Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce.

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