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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.56

    6 March, 1997

    The Future of Career
    Careers Information on the Internet

    Employment Minister Peter McCardle has indicated a timeline for the reforms promised in the coalition government agreement. Regional Employment Commissioners -- who will will have the job of reducing unemployment through locally-driven "grass-roots" employment schemes -- will be appointed by the end of this year.

    But it will be the second half of 1998 before the government will be able to amalgamate the NZ Employment Service and other agencies into a "one-stop employment shop", and also 18 months before the government can put into place a work-for-the-dole scheme.

    McCardle says there will not be a rush to put the changes in place, as the government wants to move methodically and sensibly: "Although there's a lot of interest in the community wage, that's only one part of a dramatic approach which will be integrated and will take place from the bottom up ..."

  • The Alliance's Pam Corkery is critical that the McCardle "revolution" will not tackle the fundamental causes of unemployment. She also points to State Services Commission briefing papers which say the amalgamation of the government departments will require at least 100 more staff to be employed.

    McCardle says the Commission report was based on very general information and he is "quite confident" an employment agency merger would lead to fewer managers and more money going into a more user-friendly way to help people find jobs.

    Source -- The Christchurch Press 18 February 1997 "Employment Services merger year away" and Otago Daily Times 21 February 1997 "18-month wait for new dole scheme" by Ruth Brown

    The Listener reports that government officials who have studied the new employment policies say that their impact on the unemployment register will be only modest. The officials say that the policies could keep unemployment artificially high because the work-for-the-dole jobs would displace real jobs. Although the new policies will force employers to prove that the workfare jobs are extra to their normal workforce requirements, the officials counter that obtaining the proof would make the whole thing even more costly to run.

    Columnist Jane Clifton is disconcerted that the officials' report refers to the unemployed as "stock", and describes the policy in terms of "stock flows". Clifton: "It's tempting to take a retail overview of all this and conclude that the jobless are stock best left on the shelf till someone really wants them. Sending them home with employers on appro is pointless and cruel ..."

    Source -- The Listener 1 March 1997 "Can Workfare work?" by Jane Clifton

    A Dunedin lobbyist believes that the government work-for-the-dole plans may breach International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. Josh Stevenson, of the Centre for Psycho-Sociological Development, says that the ILO views working for the unemployment benefit as forced labour -- because it carries the penalty of losing the benefit if the work is turned down. The ILO has been urging Chile for years to revise its similar legislation.

    Article 2.1 of ILO convention 29 states that "forced or compulsory labour" means any work or service exacted from a person under the menace of a penalty, and for which the person had not offered themselves voluntarily.

    Source -- Otago Daily Times 19 February 1997 "Dole scheme may breach ILO rules" by Ruth Brown

    Meanwhile, in the UK, PM John Major is about to make US-style workfare a key plank of the Conservative election manifesto. Their scheme, dubbed Project Work, has been tested in two pilot programmes, and will be extended to 15 more areas. It is designed not only to help the long-term unemployed, but also to force "dole scroungers" off the unemployment register, as beneficiaries who do not take up places on the scheme will lose their entitlement to benefits.

    The British Labour Party cites official figures that show the pilot workfare programmes helped only one in ten participants get a job. The figures: of the 6,800 people taking part in the pilots, only 700 were placed directly in a job during the first 13 weeks. More than 850 people referred to the work experience failed to turn up on the first day.

    Source -- The Guardian Weekly 2 March 1997 "Tories push US-style workfare plan" by Rebecca Smithers.

    Management thinker Charles Handy is in NZ to talk to the Institute of Management conference in Wellington and a seminar in Auckland. The author of The Future of Work, and The Empty Raincoat says that without anyone really noticing it, half the available workforce is already outside the organisational career structure: in part-time, temporary work, self employed, unemployed or on government schemes.

    He says that in the new sort of economics, wealth does not trickle down like it used to. Handy: "Before, if you got richer, you built a larger factory and employed more people. Now, you get richer by employing fewer people, and wealth sticks at the top..."

  • Handy told Kim Hill on National Radio that he has advised his children not to go looking for a job. He says he didn't mean they shouldn't get work ... but they needed to go looking for customers, not jobs. For his son, an actor, he described his best asset as "his address book". Handy: "Most of the new work that is going to come in society is going to come from people finding customers for themselves. We've got to educate and prepare people for that reality... "

    Source -- The Listener 1 March 1997 "A Handy Approach" by Pamela Stirling, and interview with Kim Hill on National Radio 3 March 1997.

    How are the unemployed and 'ordinary folk' coping with the revolutionary changes in the career landscape? (see feature this issue) Manawatu career catalyst Angela Baker, one of the workshop leaders at the Wellington careers conference, says that although many of those writing about changes to the structure of work, write of these changes as offering 'opportunity', 'flexibility' and 'challenge', these are not the attributes that many 'ordinary folk' are looking for in their working lives. Baker: "Just as there is only a relatively small proportion of the population who have the attributes to be successful entrepreneurs, there is also only a relatively small proportion who have a natural ability to thrive in the new employment environment. Ironically, many of these are the people most likely to be sought after as part of the 'core' of the 'shamrock' organisation, while others -- who cope less well with change -- will become part of the contractual fringe and part-time / casual work-force. "

    Source -- "Career planning for people who are unemployed" by Angela Baker, a paper to the Wellington international careers conference January 1997

    "People need to carry out a check on their careers and where they are going throughout their lives even in retirement. The whole notion of one job for life has gone forever. People are likely to have to change their careers many times in their working lives. Retraining a number of times could be the reality for many, with periods out of the paid workforce. It used to be the case that people performed the same job for different firms. Now the jobs themselves are changing rapidly with new skill requirements and changing markets."
    -- Rory O'Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Career Services.

  • Papers from the Wellington careers conference are available for $39.50 (for computer disk of the papers) from HR Manager, Career Services Rapuara, P.O.Box 9446, Wellington.

    Tens of thousands of qualified students in Britain face being turned away from university because the British government thinks it will not be profitable to spend public money on educating them for dead-end jobs or relatively lowly careers. The Guardian Weekly reports that a committee of enquiry into the future of higher education has been told that the supply of graduates is likely to outstrip the economy's demand for them in the next three years.

    The British Department of Education and Employment notes that graduates are already starting to fill clerical and sales jobs which did not need their level of academic attainment, and says: "There is a limit to how many extra graduates the economy can absorb before the increased productivity they generate starts to decline ... the projected rate of return to the nation's investment should be a major factor in determining the appropriate size of higher education. "

    The Department estimates that by the year 2000, 38% of young people aged 18-21 will have both the qualifications and the desire to go to university. It warns that this will mean a substantial increase in student numbers, but there will not be enough 'graduate' jobs to absorb them. Consequently, the Department says it cannot assume that public funds for higher education will increase, or even be sustained at its present level.

    Source -- The Guardian Weekly 16 February 1997 "Britain to squeeze student numbers" by John Carvel

  • Voices: -- MAIDEN SPEECHES
    -- from their Maiden Speeches in the House of Representatives, February 1997

    "Every negotiation we enter into, we have to doubly justify ourselves, perform twice as well as other providers, open our books to minute scrutiny. Everything we do must turn to magic first time round. There is never a second chance [...] "We are drip-fed, spoon-fed and acted upon like imbeciles. We are under siege from all sides, from the colonised within our own culture and from the tauiwi as well. "Our people are saying that enough is enough. How many of us need to die, to go mad, to under-achieve, to go to jail, to be unemployed ... for you to say enough is enough?"
    -- Tariana Turia, Maori Labour list MP

    "New generations of new entrants in our schools have never seen a book, they are shipped between various strands of their extended families, they have levels of disease and health conditions associated with the Third World, and their future is already sealed by a mixture of parental ignorance and neglect [...] "It is my strong view that the State requires a more active, more compassionate, hands-on set of policies that admit to our collective failure to give all our young an equal early start ..."
    -- Robyn McDonald, NZ First list MP and Minister of Consumer Affairs.

    " I find it obscene that the Department of Social Welfare is hosting a conference next month entitled "Beyond Dependency", and sees fit to charge $1475 per head. All those who might speak directly of their experiences as victims of the discourse of dependency are necessarily excluded by the cost. [...] "The newspeak of welfare dependency is not about public morality, but about finding ways to chop public expenditure so that the wealthiest in our society can pay less tax. The genie of welfare dependency has been pulled out of the bottle simply as a means to this end. Whether through overall cuts in benefit levels or through exclusionary legislation, the goal of the New Right is to cut, cut, cut state expenditure ..."
    -- Liz Gordon, Alliance list MP

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