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    Community Employment Group
    Interview with the new General Manager

    from The Jobs Letter No.133 / 30 October, 2000

    CEG, the government's major resource for guiding and supporting local employment initiatives, has now moved from Winz back into the Labour Department.

    The new General Manager, CHARLIE MOORE, talks with The Jobs Letter editor Vivian Hutchinson.

    The Jobs Letter: Welcome to the job. You've had a month to settle in ... what are you seeing in front of you?

    Charlie Moore: It's certainly been an exciting month, and a chance for me to become familiar with the fieldwork operation, and to do some thinking about where CEG needs to go and develop over the next couple of years. It has also been a chance for me to get some input from the people we're working with in terms of the communities and a range of other stakeholders.

    The Jobs Letter: Your Chief Executive, John Chetwin, argued strongly to have CEG brought back into the Labour Department. What do you think is the special contribution the Labour Department brings to CEG? How will it be different from how it was under Winz?

    Charlie Moore: It is being established as a separate entity, so it will have its own unique identity. That's no reflection on Work and Income, but it reflects the fact that it is a different kind of business, it has a different set of competencies, and it requires a different style of management. The whole rationale of the Community Employment Group is that it has got the competencies and the abilities to form relationships in a group setting. It's not dealing with individual "customers". It's working within a community setting, and with groups of people.

    The other linkage, which is quite valuable, is the fact that the Department of Labour is responsible for employment policy. I think there are real opportunities to actually make a linkage between the employment issues that are coming through from communities — barriers to jobs, opportunities that they see — and how that interacts with policy.

    The Jobs Letter: The Department of Labour, in it's briefing to the incoming government, talked of "capacity building" as one of its major emphasises. What does this mean, and how will this be reflected in the activities of CEG?

    Charlie Moore: Capacity building is core business for CEG. One of the things it means is starting where people are at, and accepting that there is a goal that employment opportunities will grow in that area. It implies a bottom-up approach, which is a much-used phrase, but has a lot of implications. It involves asking: What are the connections that that group needs to make? What are the abilities and the resources that need to be available? It might mean something as pragmatic as help with a payroll system for the purpose of employing people, or it might mean participating in a process of community-based strategic planning that will create concrete steps on the road towards that vision.

    I guess that one point I would say is that CEG is not about programmes as such. The core of what we're about is a process really — it is a developmental activity within communities. We're not about programmes, we're about fieldworkers, about people working in communities to help make a difference.

    We do have grant money, obviously, and we have resources that are available. But I think it is really important that we all understand that the process doesn't start with a grant. The process begins with the identification of what people are trying to achieve and what resources there are and what the strengths and challenges and risks involved. Somewhere along that journey, money will be needed ...but if the point of the journey becomes the money and the grant, then I think we're starting from the wrong place.

    " We're not about programmes, we're about fieldworkers, about people working in communities to help make a difference. "
    Charlie Moore

    The Jobs Letter: Do you expect to have more staff or different programmes? How will CEG look different from what its been in the last couple of years?

    Charlie Moore: I think one of the things people will start to see is that there can be a lot of flexibility. Because it is a national organisation, we will have the ability to both provide a generic service located within communities throughout New Zealand, as well as have people that can play to their strengths. We will be able to move resources, or specialist people with particular experience and talents, to work throughout the country.

    Currently have a network of 67 fieldworkers and following the recent Budget funding initiatives there is the opportunity to increase that slightly, but not by a substantial amount at this stage.

    In addition to the operational resources which provides for and supports the network of fieldworkers, in the current year, we have about $19 million of funding available to support that field operation through grants and capacity-building initiatives for the groups that we're working with.

    What we are building are regional and national support structures for that network, and that's the work that is inevitably occupying a certain amount of our attention. Our plan is to do the strategic planning work by Christmas. We are about to engage in the next fortnight in quite an intensive process of consultation with both internal and external stakeholders of CEG as part of that process. We are planning to have a completed organisational design by the end of January, and in place by the end of March. So that's a very challenging time-frame.

    The Jobs Letter: What special qualities do you bring to the job?

    Charlie Moore: I do believe that I bring an open, facilitative and consultative approach. I don't believe that I personally have all of the answers. I guess I'm not a great believer in the "Hero CEO" management model.

    I believe that there is an enormous amount of experience, insights and common sense in this organization, and in the communities that it works in. The trick is actually to provide a leadership which allows people to have the confidence and the vision to see that for themselves, to identify what they bring, to agree about what it is that we're here to do. That's what I'm working really hard to make happen.

    " I would want the characteristic of CEG to be that we can be flexible... We clearly see our role not to tell communities what they should be doing, but to facilitate a process whereby communities can identify what their goals and aspirations are ... and CEG can provide some contribution to making that happen." "
    Charlie Moore

    The Jobs Letter: You've mentioned the new initiatives that were announced in the Budget. A lot of these have been to do with "capacity building" and are aimed at the Maori Community. Do you see the overall nature of CEG moving more towards supporting Maori organisations, with the emphasis on "Closing the Gaps"?

    Charlie Moore: I think CEG will always have a core, generic community support role. At the moment the Government has a focus on the "Closing the Gaps" strategy and we've got some additional specific resources to help contribute to that. So clearly our work will reflect that, but I would hasten to say that it is additional resource _ it's not a reprioritisation of our current resource.

    The "Closing the Gaps" work is very much building on the kind of work that CEG has been doing over the years. There was an increase in the support available for land development projects _ to take multiple-owned land and identify and build on opportunities there. Similarly, we have been working with both Maori and Pacific organizations, getting people to the point where they can deliver services themselves, or develop employment opportunities. Similarly, the money for Maori women's development is again an area that we have focused on, but we'll now be able to do a bit more.

    The Jobs Letter: What will the CEOs (Community Employment Organisations) and the Artworks programme involve?

    Charlie Moore: The Community Employment Organisations are a more generic project, if you like. In the current year, we're talking about $1.4 million, next year $2.5 million and in then the third year building up to $4.6 million. Work and Income is also an integral part of the CEO initiative and they will have wage subsidy money available to support people working within those.

    The CEOs will be undertaking a wide range of things. They sit, I guess, between the for-profit private sector business operation and a work scheme. We will provide establishment costs and some wage support if that's required, and this will be mixed with or matched with contributions from the organisation and from other stakeholders, so that they can develop activities which have the potential to actually generate income. So they aren't a work scheme. I think the key difference is that it's not project-based, or it doesn't have to be project-based. We want them to be ongoing, and to get a foothold in the marketplace.

    Artworks is a relatively small sum of money — on an annual basis it's a matter of just under $200,000. So, in a sense, it is really both a pilot and a chance to provide a little additional support to some of groups that are focussed around developing employment opportunities in the arts. It can provide some startup costs, support costs targeted in that particular sector.

    All these new initiatives will be developed through the fieldworker operations. We're trying to stay true to our core philosophy, if you like. We've prepared information and guidelines for fieldworkers, and pamphlets so that people are aware of what's available. But the proposals will come back to us through the fieldworkers, the same way that any other proposal will.

    The Jobs Letter: What would you say to community leaders about their future partnerships with CEG?

    Charlie Moore: I guess I would say we are absolutely committed to working very closely with the communities. We are striving to build ourselves as an organisation that will have the capacity and the capability to be of real value to the groups that we work with. We clearly see our role not to tell communities what they should be doing, but to facilitate a process whereby communities can identify what their goals and aspirations are ... and CEG can provide some contribution to making that happen.

    I would want the characteristic of CEG to be that we can be flexible, and that we can respond to where people are at with some sort of innovation that ultimately has an employment outcome. We're an organisation that needs to be about learning and not about knowing. We want to build an open organisation, so that people have an opportunity to give us feedback and to have a relationship with us which has got mutual respect and an opportunity for us to grow together.

    Source — 20th October 2000 Vivian Hutchinson interview with Charlie Moore, General Manager of the Community Employment Group.

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