on Coalition Government Employment Strategies
from the Job letter No. 68/ 3 November 1997
The Employment Implementation Steering Group has reported back on the recent public
submissions about the coalition government's new employment strategies.
The Group (chaired by Alf Kirk) canvassed specific responses to the proposed government
policies, and how they will be implemented at a local level. They received over 200 submissions
from individuals and organisations around the country.
In this special feature, The Jobs Letter gives an
essential summary of the Employment
Implementation Group's analysis of the submissions, and also feature some of the comments made in
the consultation process.
The consultation process was based around a series of specific questions relating to
regional delivery of employment and training services, proposals for community work and training,
and also the concept of a community wage replacing the dole.
The Group's report states that a number of submissions, mainly from voluntary
groups, unemployed workers' groups and unions, set their comments about the government's strategy in
a wider context of how the government is addressing unemployment itself. They argued that
unemployment is structural and should be recognised in macro-economic policy. Most of these
respondents favoured implementing policies designed to create more jobs alongside, or in place
of, the `workfare' policies.
"If the economic environment is hostile to employment growth, then the justification of
workfare to keep unemployed `work-ready' is compromised. Current policies contribute to an
environment where employment is an implicit instrument of economic management and the quality of
-- NZ Council of Trade Unions
- REGIONAL DELIVERY
Agreement on the objectives of regional delivery was high.
Respondents generally agreed with the objectives set out in the Local Government NZ submission (see
Objectives of Regional Delivery of Employment Services). Most groups supported the view that regional delivery should focus on
appropriateness and responsiveness to regional differences while ensuring consistency in delivery and
regulations across the country.
- SIZE AND NUMBER OF REGIONS
Opinion was divided on how this should be determined and
the report found no clear pattern from different sector groups. A third of the submissions
favoured regions based on population numbers, particularly the number of unemployed in the region,
and natural geographic boundaries. A quarter of the submissions put most emphasis on `community
of interest' as the basis for regions. Other common proposals were to base the regions on
current local body boundaries, or adopting current government agency boundaries such as those used
by NZES or ETSA.
- ALLOCATION OF FUNDING
Almost all submissions agreed that funds should be allocated
to regions on the basis of need. And a number of respondents also argued that the region's
capacity to generate "real jobs" should be taken into account. Almost two-thirds of the submissions
were in favour of distributing funds on a population basis, weighted by the number of unemployed
in the region. Several submissions argued for a distinction between the way in which funds
were allocated for training and for community work.
"We believe that macro-economic policy is primarily responsible for unemployment.
Unemployment, along with casual, insecure and poor quality employment, is inevitable in a free
market where state assets continue to be privatised; ..."
-- Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (Inc)
- NATIONAL FUNCTIONS
The great majority of submissions thought that national functions
should be delivered by all regions in the same way, particularly in setting standards, accountability
and ensuring the consistency of outcomes.
- REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEES
Suggestions on the role of these committees
were varied and often non-specific. A third of the submissions suggested the committees have a
liaison, co-ordination and advisory role. A fifth saw them in a strategic planning role with varying
degrees of hands-on responsibility.
Most submissions favoured a wide representation on the Committees, including representatives
of business and industry, community and voluntary organisations, Maori and Pacific
Islanders, schools, Private Training Providers, local authorities, government departments, and unions.
- COMMUNITY WORK AND TRAINING
A majority of submissions favoured an inclusive approach
to community work, rather than narrowly defining the group of unemployed being able to take
up this option. The same applied to questions on who should be available for training. Many
education and training providers and voluntary groups favoured the opening up of current
eligibility criteria for training.
"Blanket, low-cost per participant, compulsory schemes have little value to the government or
the participant. They have negative impacts on a variety of stakeholders including community
groups, the clients and staff of community groups, the government and the unemployed ..."
-- Downtown Community Ministry
- MAKING IT MANDATORY
The submissions were evenly divided over whether or not
community work and training should be mandatory. Generally in favour of the mandatory policy were
most local authorities, Local Employment Co-ordination Committees, employer and industry
groups. Unemployed worker's groups, voluntary organisations and groups representing people
with disabilities were generally in favour of voluntary options.
The submissions overwhelmingly agreed that community work should be just that
work that benefits the community.
- DISPLACEMENT OF EXISTING PAID WORK
About a third of the submissions did not or could
not answer this question, and simply agreed that displacement should not happen. Those who
did make suggestions favoured monitoring projects and/or employers, having the Regional
Committees set criteria, manage selection and approve projects, and also keeping the work in the
"We are concerned that workfare will undermine genuine volunteer work and create barriers
-- Dunedin Volunteer Centre Trust
- COMMUNITY WAGE
The submissions expressed overwhelming support for setting the
community wage at a level higher than a comparable benefit. They mentioned the need for an
incentive or inducement to participate as a reason for setting the higher level, and also the
additional costs associated with the work or training involved.
Opinion was strongly in favour of treating the community wage as a wage, ie. payment
for work and training undertaken, rather than as a `benefit'.
see also Objectives of Regional Delivery
see also Voices
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