|No.179||5 February 2003||Essential Information on an Essential Issue|
REGIONAL LABOUR MARKET REPORTS
RIFKIN ON HYDROGEN
Index to Features
18 January 2003
Australian Employment Minister Tony Abbott argues that high benefit rebate rates act as a strong disincentive for unemployed Australians to move from welfare to work. Abbott: “The wonder is not that Australia has a persistent subculture of unemployment but that more people do not opt out of participation in the workforce.”
Alcoa, the world’s largest aluminium producer, is to cut 8,000 jobs.
20 January 2003
Wage increases for NZ workers averaged 4.4% last year.
21 January 2003
Research from New South Wales records finds a strong relationship between crime and young men who are long-term unemployed. The research also associates crime with people who were unsuccessful in high school.
The US unemployment rate remains unchanged at 6%, but the number of Americans in paid work decreased again last month.
23 January 2003
Eastman Kodak will cut up to 2,200 jobs in the US and Europe, after cutting 7,000 jobs last year.
26 January 2003
The Disabled Persons’ Employment Promotions Act, which exempts sheltered workshops from both minimum wage and holiday provisions, is to be repealed. Minister of Disabilities Issues Ruth Dyson says dismantling the Act will give people with disabilities the same rights as everyone else.
Workforce Industries, one of 261 sheltered workshops in NZ, reacts to the announcement by saying it is considering laying off 10-20 of its least productive workers. Director David Robinson claims Workforce Industries is already losing money and is concerned that there is a lack of subsidies earmarked by government to make up for the changes that will occur through the repeal of the Act.
The first 20 students graduate from the Cisco Networking Academy Program based at Whitireia Community Polytechnic. Cisco, producer of much of the world’s computer networking hardware, has 10,000 accredited academies in 148 countries targeted at low-income communities and training people to design, build and maintain computer networks.
27 January 2003
The Ministry of Fisheries expects new jobs to be created in the seafood industry as it progressively adds new species to the commercial fishing quota system. Fisheries manager Michael Arbuckle says the seafood industry already employs 10,000 workers. Adding another 50 species to the quota system, including shellfish like kina, will encourage the industry to expand its workforce.
28 January 2003
The Independent says the government has delayed the presentation of its discussion document on GATS (see last issue of The Jobs Letter). The paper says the document was to be published on the 6 January but has been delayed due to “Cabinet differences”.
Those opposing GATS say the delay means time is running out for any meaningful public debate on the government’s intentions to open up to 160 service sectors in the NZ economy to international competition. The government is expected to table its offers of NZ services to be included in a new agreement by 31 March 2003.
National MP Nick Smith says it is unacceptable that there are 376 secondary teacher vacancies as the school year begins. Nick Smith says the teacher shortage problem is real and getting worse.
The current teacher shortage prompts Post Primary Teachers Association president Phil Smith’s call for an urgent convening of the Ministerial Taskforce on Secondary Teacher Remuneration. Smith says the Taskforce needs to come up with fresh ideas and long-term solutions to solve the staffing crisis in schools. Smith: “We can’t put bandages on it and hope that it will get better in 2008”.
National Party finance spokesperson Don Brash gives a speech to the Orewa Rotary Club arguing for the dole to be abolished. (See story this issue)
29 January 2003
As Act MP Donna Awatere Huata stands accused of misappropriating public money provided to a charitable trust, Act party leader Richard Prebble says he is going to find out “who else is on this gravy train.”
Vacancies for skilled jobs in Australia are 10% higher than they were a year ago.
In his “State of the Union” speech, President George W Bush says the US economy is not growing fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job. His solution is to attempt to stimulate the economy by eliminating the taxes that investors pay on their dividend incomes.
31 January 2003
The Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association calls for the government to provide a 52-week allowance from the time a student starts studying until they finish.
1 February 2003
The New Plymouth District Council signs-up 14 unemployed young people into council-based cadetships. The cadets will get on-the-job training for a year at various council sites.
BRASH CALL TO ABOLISH THE DOLE
Dr Brash argued that 300,000 of the 400,000 working age adults on a benefit are able to work but do not do so for one reason or another despite the desperate shortage of workers in many parts of the country. Brash: “ Too many people see benefits as an absolute and indefinite entitlement, carrying no reciprocal obligation to actively seek employment”
Dr Brash: “We will get nowhere as long as we pretend that those policy changes were mistaken. Of course, no 15 year period is totally devoid of policy mistakes, but by and large that period saw policies changed for the better...” Dr Brash also advocated a stronger private-sector involvement in both education and health, opposition to any form of special treatment on the basis of race, an increase in security funding, domestic and external, and a greater commitment to economic growth.
— “Where to From Here?” address by National Party spokesman Don Brash to the Orewa Rotary Club, 28 January 2003, available on the internet at http://www.national.org.nz/speech_article.aspx?ArticleID=1614
Sources – “Where to From Here?” — address by National Party spokesman Don Brash to the Orewa Rotary Club 28 January 2003; www.stuff.co.nz 28 January 2003 “Brash— Widespread reform needed urgently”; 30 January 2003 “English pledges changes to dole” by Nick Venter; www.stuff.co.nz 29 January 2003 “Critics say scrapping dole would send NZ back to the 1930s” by INL; NZ City 29 January 2003 “Mixed results to Brash dole comments”; New Zealand Herald 29 January 2003 “Brash wants dole abolished” by Audrey Young”, New Zealand Herald editorial 30 January 2003 “Brash’s dole ideas welcome”
REGIONAL LABOUR MARKET REPORTS AVAILABLE
The forecasts: For the next year high economic growth is predicted in Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki; solid growth in Northland, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury and Southern; and low growth in Waikato, East Coast and Central.
The labour markets of Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Canterbury are expected to improve as regional economic growth leads to robust job growth. Wellington, Nelson, and Southern labour market conditions are expected to remain steady during the next twelve months, while the Northland, Waikato, East Coast and Central labour markets are expected to weaken slightly.
— The seperate Regional Labour Market Reports (December 2002) can be downloaded from http://www.dol.govt.nz/publications/lmr/lmr-regional.asp
Sources – December 2002 Labour Market National Overview Report from LMPG, Department of Labour. Press Release from LMPG and Office of Steve Maharey Minister of Employment 27 January 2003
The Department of Labour’s Future of Work website (www.dol.govt.nz/futureofwork) has just published a review on “precarious” employment by Deborah Tucker. There is no official data collected on casual, temporary and fixed-term employment in New Zealand. There have been two national workplace surveys conducted in 1991 and 1995 which both found that casual, temporary and fixed-term employment made up 11%of the workforce.
But clearly, some non-standard workers, particularly casual and/or temporary workers, are not as fortunate. Casual and temporary jobs are most common in agriculture; in unskilled, predominantly manual jobs; in the less skilled service occupations, particularly food service occupations; and in workplaces where demand is seasonal. Tucker: “Some temporary and casual jobs may be traps rather than stepping stones to standard work, with temporary workers moving back and forth between the states of unemployment and temporary work...”
There were significant variations occurring between regions — especially in those regions reflecting a high proportion of seasonal short-term labour demands. Nelson had 45% of “exits” from the benefit system return to receiving a benefit within three months ... and 58% of all “exits” returned within six months. Data for the East Coast was very similar. All Auckland regions and Wellington, on the other hand, had low proportions of people returning to receiving a benefit.
— “Precarious” Non-Standard Employment - A Review of the Literature by Deborah Tucker (Dept of Labour, December 2002) can be downloaded (78pg, 528kb) from www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/PrecariousNSWorkLitReview.pdf
FUTURE OF WORK SEMINAR
Workshop sessions and presenters include: Technology and the labour market (Dr John Gibson, Waikato University); Skill acquisition (Associate Professor Sholeh Maani, University of Auckland); Youth transition into the workforce (Associate Professor Tim Maloney, University of Auckland); and Issues for older workers (Dr Judith Davey, NZ Institute for Research on Ageing, Victoria University).
Attendance is free of charge, but numbers are limited. For further contact, email the Future of Work team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Jonathan Guest at 04-915-4405.
Source — Future of Work newsletter 24 January 2003
RIFKIN ON THE HYDROGEN ECONOMY
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and can be captured using renewable energy technologies. Hydrogen never runs out and produces no harmful CO2 emissions. Commercial fuel-cells powered by hydrogen are just now being introduced into the market for home, office and industrial use. And major automakers have spent more than $2 billion developing hydrogen cars, buses, and trucks, with the first mass-produced vehicles are expected to be on the road in just a few years.
Last week, President George Bush’s “State of the Union” speech signalled support for these new technologies when he announced a $1.2 billion “Freedom Fuel” initiative based on developing hydrogen fuel cells ... “to reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil.
One of the most exciting prospects of this new economy, and perhaps the most challenging to existing energy companies, is the prospect for what Rifkin calls a “Worldwide Energy Web”. This is his vision of a decentralised energy industry where ordinary consumers produce energy in their hydrogen fuel cells in cars or in their homes and offices ... and then sell their excess energy back to the local, regional or national energy grids, using the same design principles and technologies that made the internet possible. In this way, every human being has the potential to become the producer as well as the consumer of his or her own energy supply.
One example is the reserve-to-production ratio (R/P) for oil reserves around the world. This ratio estimates the number of years that known oil reserves in a particular country will last at current production rates. In the US, the R/P is 10:1. In Kuwait (number two in the list), the figure leaps to 116:1. However, in Iraq (at the top of the list), the ratio leaps to a staggering 526:1 — meaning that Iraq has 526 years of oil left at current production rates.
Sources – The Hydrogen Economy, by Jeremy Rifkin (pub 2002 references from amazon.com); New Statesman 13 January 2002 “The forever fuel” by Rory Spower