|No.234||5 July 2005||Essential Information on an Essential Issue|
of key events over the last few weeks.
MAYORS TASKFORCE TO BEGIN IN AUSTRALIA
CofFEE CENTRE FOR FULL EMPLOYMENT
NZ ACADEMIC GROUP TO EVALUATE JOB GUARANTEE PROGRAMME
ARGENTINA JOB GUARANTEE SCHEME
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Index to Features
8 June 2005
India's universities are not turning out enough graduates with the appropriate skills to fill the expected growth in its software and outsourcing industries, according to its National Association of Software and Service Companies. President Kiran Karnik says the industry is expected to double in size to 2 million workers over the next four years and most of the current graduates do not have the right skills.
9 June 2005
A shortage of building craftspeople is threatening the future of historic buildings in Britain, according to the National Heritage Training Group. There is a particular need for specialist bricklayers, carpenters, roofers, stonemasons and thatchers. The group says skills such as drystone walling, thatching and earth walling could disappear altogether within 10-15 years.
12 June 2005
Australian job growth continues to revolve around part-time jobs. The Australian newspaper say about 330,000 workers are switching from full-time to part-time jobs every quarter. It also found people who are unemployed are much more likely to be offered part-time work. More than half the people who were unemployed and found work in May, got part-time jobs.
13 June 2005
A review of immigration law may put more responsibility on the wine industry to check that they are using legal workers. The Department of Labour says it is not convinced many Marlborough vineyard employers are as innocent as they say when it comes to using contractors who employ illegal workers. The Central Amalgamated Workers Union alleges only 20% of Marlborough's viticulture contractors use legitimate employment practices.
All British school children under 14-years are to be offered "dawn to dusk care at school". British Education Secretary Ruth Kelly proposes that schools stay open from 8am to 6pm, offering extra-curricular activities to children. The move is expected to appeal to working parents.
14 June 2005
Newspaper job ads dropped 3.8% in May and falls were recorded over all regions by the ANZ survey. On an annual basis the Manawatu has had the strongest rise in job advertising (+17%) while Auckland as had the sharpest decline (-18%).
There are currently 7,760 people enrolled in a Modern Apprenticeship, according to Minister of Education Trevor Mallard. About 1,000 have completed their training.
National MP Nick Smith claims that less than half of those in building industry apprenticeships complete their training.
The ACT Party alleges Corrections Department managers are preparing a deliberately skewed report on its prisoner job-training programmes in order to gain more funding. ACT says an internal email asked Corrections managers to provide the names of their top 10 inmates who had succeeded in finding jobs after release to "build a case for further funding". $30 million is budgeted for inmate employment training this year.
The number of people arriving to live in NZ has slowed to just 6,000 more than left, for the year through May. The Department of Labour says there is a chance by the end of the year more people will have left than will have arrived.
16 June 2005
New "investor immigrants" to NZ will have stricter requirements placed on their invested funds. Applicants will have to put $2 million into government approved infrastructure projects and their money will remain tied up for five years and would receive only the rate of inflation for interest. Minister of Immigration Paul Swain says the new criteria would make it easier to verify the investment status of applicants is genuine.
District nurses in Christchurch will not get the 20% pay increase awarded in a national collective agreement with District Health Boards. District nursing services in Christchurch are contracted out, rather than employed directly by the Health Board, and therefore don't qualify for the increases.
17 June 2005
Aviation fuel prices are expected to skyrocket next year and there is strong speculation that Qantas Airlines will lay-off as many as 5,000 of its 30,000 workforce.
18 June 2005
Eight NZ Mayors from the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs travel to Australia to meet Mayors there and to support the setting up of an Australian Mayor's taskforce for jobs, and to study the Australian jobs guarantee scheme.
19 June 2005
A Matamata engineering firm has hired three Fijian welders. Juno Engineering says it could find no local tradesmen.
20 June 2005
More NZ businesses are planning to hire staff than at any time over for the last six years, according to the Hudson report. 43.5% of the nearly 1,700 businesses surveyed plan to increase staff numbers.
The EU is prepared to phase-out agricultural export subsidies if advanced developing countries such as Brazil and India do the same, according to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson.
Minister of Education Trevor Mallard will not rule out the possibility that Te Wananga o Aotearoa will be folded up.
22 June 2005
The jobs of 100 people who worked at a seasonal Fonterra factory in Takaka are in jeopardy as the buildings they worked in are destroyed by fire.
Thousands more US auto industry jobs are expected to go as both Ford and GM continue to suffer decreasing sales. Both corporates have had their credit rating dropped to non-investment grade or "junk" status.
23 June 2005
The NZ current account deficit has increased to what is now 7% of GDP, the largest gap between earnings and spending since 1988.
26 June 2005
Information technology workers are expected to remain in high demand in NZ for the next six months, according to recruitment agency Hudson. 63% of IT firms surveyed plan to increase staff.
27 June 2005
The Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union says if employers want staff, they have to pay more. Secretary Andrew Little says a survey by Select Australasia indicates NZ employers are not doing enough to attract and retain workers.
The government will soon close a loophole that has allowed solo fathers not to name the mother of their child therefore avoiding the mother paying child support to the Inland Revenue Department. Financial penalties have been in place for women not naming the father but not visa versa.
28 June 2005
NZ is doing what the OECD says is necessary to see reduced level of unemployment. Minister of Employment Steve Maharey believes Jobs Jolt, Work for You and the reduction of Work & Income case manager caseloads are the types of "government activation programmes" the OECD is recommending to its members.
More and more Australian employers are turning to contracted workers for their source of skilled workers, according to the Hudson Report Employment Expectation. Hudson SA manager Phil Morton: "It can be interpreted as a signal of the difficulty companies are increasingly facing when it comes to sourcing skilled staff in permanent positions."
1 July 2005
The NZ economy expanded by a "moderate 0.6%" in the first quarter of 2005, below expectations and below the 10-year average of 0.8%, according to Depart of Labour's latest Labour Market Report. Annual average growth of 4.2% for the year to March 2005 is predicted to fall to 2.4% at March 2006. The major driver of last year's economic growth was a 3.5% rise in hours worked. The Labour Market Report can be found here.
2 July 2005
Live 8 concerts in Moscow, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Barrie, Rome, Paris, London, Philadelphia and Berlin appeal to the G8 leaders to end world poverty.
MAYORS TASKFORCE TO BEGIN IN AUSTRALIA
Mayor Moore reinforced the importance of the partnership the NZ Taskforce had forged with government, and in particular the Minister of Social Development, Steve Maharey, and the Minister of Economic Development, Jim Anderton. Moore: "When the Labour government gained office in 1999, they said they would forge a new relationship with local government. The Mayors Taskforce represents a tangible success in this regard. We have succeeded in getting substantial commitments of support from the government Ministers and our major government departments. Our government has signed a memorandum of understanding with us that by 2007 all young people in New Zealand under the age of 20 will either be earning or learning. And they have been putting in $50 million in special programmes each year to back up their commitment to this goal."
"The Mayors have succeeded in making this an apolitical initiative ... the members of our Taskforce come from all different political sympathies. But we have found common ground on our shared goal for the "zero waste of New Zealanders", particularly focussing on our young people. And we have been actively speaking to all political parties to ask how they can get in behind this cultural goal."
Moore says that, as far as he is aware, the Newcastle meeting was the first trans-Tasman Mayoral meeting that has focussed on a major social issue such as unemployment. Moore: "It's great that our Australian cousins are picking up the idea of the NZ Taskforce initiative. I believe we will have a great deal to learn from one another as their new Taskforce gets off the ground..."
" The Mayors in the New Zealand Taskforce are stepping up to this governance challenge and are in a unique place to speak to many levels in our communities about the cultural goal of having all our young people in either education or work. We will not achieve these cultural goals by just introducing a new scheme or programme. We need a systemic approach that asks for changes right across many different organisations. The Mayors are in a unique position to "connect-the-dots" and speak to these systemic changes..."
John Tate said he was attracted to the idea of the Mayors Taskforce because there needed to be another focus for leadership on these unemployment and skill shortage issues, and a leadership that spoke across the institutional barriers. He said he was impressed by the track record of the New Zealand Mayors Taskforce, and, with the help of the local resources from Newcastle University, he intends to bring together a group of fellow Mayors from the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, which will form the foundation of the new Australian Taskforce.
COFFEE CENTRE FOR FULL EMPLOYMENT
Taskforce chairman Garry Moore: "We know we are not going to reach our goals unless we gain a working understanding of the macro-economic settings which will lead to fuller employment. We can only do so much with the good work we are doing on local projects. But there is a deeper political and governance challenge in getting the macro-economic policies to be in service to our cultural goals. That is one of the main reasons we have come to Newcastle ... to listen to the Australian academics and take advantage of their extensive research and international connections on full employment issues..."
Saunders: "As its name suggests, the Centre for Full Employment and Equity is devoted to understanding the causes of unemployment and to developing pathways to full employment in our local communities. The University is proud of CofFEE's research record and highly supportive of its efforts to work with Mayors from Australia and New Zealand to reduce the damage caused by persistent unemployment."
Mitchell: "In Australia, the Federal Government has not delivered full employment and local governments have not argued that the cost this imposes on their communities is unacceptable. The New Zealand Mayors do not think about their vision for a Job Guarantee in terms of which policy buttons to press. Their aim is to create a culture of full employment. Once there is a group of people who are willing to commit to this cultural vision, groups like CofFEE can provide the research support and policy ideas that can help them to realise their goals ..."
The Job Guarantee research project has recently attracted Australian Research Council (ARC) funding, has been unanimously endorsed by local businesses, the Hunter Region Organisation of Councils and the Trades Hall Council and is now official policy of the Newcastle City Council. CofFEE academics have given extensive briefings to politicians of all persuasions on the Job Guarantee proposals.
CofFEE's website can be found at http://e1.newcastle.edu.au/coffee/
The main paper on the Job Guarantee policy proposals can be downloaded from here
International linkages have also been a feature of CofFEE's research collaboration, and in 2001 a sister centre, CofFEE-Europe, at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands was established. The Centre is also part of a research collaborative network in the UK with the recently established Cambridge Centre for Economic and Public Policy at Cambridge University in the UK, and with the Center of Full Employment and Price Stability at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the US.
The conference will be held at the University of Newcastle on December 8-9 2005. More details can be found here.
NZ ACADEMIC GROUP TO EVALUATE JOB GUARANTEE PROGRAMME
ARGENTINA JOB GUARANTEE SCHEME
However, Larry Rohter in the New York Times reports that three years after the Argentine collapse, the apocalypse has not arrived. Instead, the economy has grown by 8% for two consecutive years, exports have zoomed, the currency is stable, investors are gradually returning and unemployment has eased from record highs all without a debt settlement or the standard measures required by the International Monetary Fund for its approval. Rohter: "Argentina's recovery has been undeniable ... the Peronist-led government has chosen to stimulate internal consumption first and told creditors to get in line with everyone else."
The Heads of Household program provides a wage of 150 pesos ($NZ 75) per month to a head of household for a minimum of 4 hours of work daily in a variety of community services and small construction or maintenance activities. Alternatively, participants can elect training which might include completion of basic education. To be eligible, the household must contain children under age 18, or people with disabilities, or a pregnant woman.
The size of the program was a concern, not only because of organizational demands but also because of the cost. Most other safety net programs were eliminated or reduced in order to shift funding to Jefes. However, Bill Mitchell points out that the US spends 1% of GDP on social assistance, while France and the UK spend 3-4% of GDP on such programs. Given that Argentina has a national poverty rate above 50%, and a child poverty rate approaching 75%, it's spending is small relative to needs.
"Employer of Last Resorta case study of Argentina's Jefes Program" by Professor L. Randall Wray, of CFEPS at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, can be found here.
Sources New York Times 23 December 2004 "Argentina's Economic Rally Defies Forecasts" by Larry Rohter; Professor Bill Mitchell CofFEE Centre for Full Employment Blog 29 December 2004 "Job Guarantee Success in Argentina"