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Creating better job partnerships with industry

Steve Maharey Speech: Creating better job partnerships with industry

Comments at the launch of the Ministry of Social Development’s Partnership for Industry initiative with the Hospitality Association of New Zealand. The Boatshed, Wellington.

Introduction

Welcome to tonight’s event. I’d like to acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues Jim Anderton (Minister of Economic and Regional Development) and Mark Burton (Minister of Tourism); our MC for the evening and the Ministry of Social Development’s Job Partnerships National Coordinator, Stephen Cunningham; their Worships Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Jenny Brash, Wayne Guppy and John Terris; Bruce Robertson, the CEO of Hospitality Association of New Zealand and the many other industry, business and union leaders present here tonight.

Increasing participation in the workforce

Participation in the workforce is a critical pathway to well-being for people, families, and communities. Participation in paid work provides more than income and material well-being. It also provides self-worth and self-confidence, and a belief in future possibilities.

Everyone here this evening wants to widen the doorway to opportunities for New Zealanders to enjoy the benefits of participation in the workforce.

We’re here to take action. To focus on practical solutions. Solutions that address causes, not symptoms.

This Government is committed to getting more New Zealanders into work. Helping industries and businesses grow. Closing the skills gap that is a barrier to employment for some of our job seekers.

Getting more New Zealanders into work is the purpose of our new Jobs Jolt package. Jobs Jolt is a package of initiatives that will assist thousands of New Zealanders into paid work over the next three years.

Jobs Jolt covers a wide spectrum of approaches to getting people into work. Enhanced services and case management for targeted Job Seekers. In-work support for people newly placed in employment. A boost to employment opportunities in the IT and communications sector. Partnerships with employers, industry, and local government.

The initiative we’re launching tonight, Job Partnerships with Industry, is part of the Jobs Jolt package.

We have a solid foundation to build on. New Zealand’s economy is performing well, achieving 3.8% per annum growth over the last four years. Unemployment levels are at their lowest in 16 years.

Unemployment benefit numbers have reduced from 138,541 in September 2000 to less than 100,000 today. The number of people placed into stable employment has increased from 43,429 in 2000 to 49,000 in 2002.

Our strong economy has meant an expansion in key industries like hospitality, tourism, road transport, and retail. These industries have a growing demand for skilled labour—but many job seekers lack the skills that industry needs.

The solution is obvious: form partnerships with industry and employers. Match selected job seekers with the jobs available in industries that are facing skills shortages. Work with industry to identify the skills those job seekers require, and provide the relevant pre-employment and workplace training.

This is the essence of Job Partnerships with Industry: better matching through better partnerships. It’s the way we want to continue to work with industry in the future.

Industry will be closely involved in the matching process. Work and Income referrals will match employers’ criteria, and training programmes will be based on employers’ requirements. Job Partnerships with Industry is a demand-led and industry-led initiative.

Unions are involved too

Unions also have a partnership role. As part of their commitment to sustainable employment for all New Zealanders, unions are strong advocates for workplace training and lifelong learning.

Unions have already been working with Industry Training Organisations to identify and develop relevant training for people after they enter employment in the hospitality industry. That work will continue now the job partnership agreement is in place.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions also supports the Government’s ‘Skill New Zealand’ campaign, designed to help our small and medium-sized businesses take part in workplace learning.

‘Skill New Zealand’ is one part of the Government’s push to have 150,000 New Zealanders engaged in workplace learning by 2005, rising to 250,000 in 2007.

Building on what’s already there

The concept of working in partnership is not new or untested. Work and Income already runs many successful local partnerships with industries and larger employers in regions around New Zealand.

Industry has told us that it wants a national framework for this activity. A framework that provides consistency, planning, and co-ordination of what’s happening in the regions. Job Partnerships with Industry will provide this framework.

It will enable us to co-ordinate regional and national activities. Expand partnerships into more areas. Develop partnerships with more industries. Provide fast, flexible solutions to skills shortages in the regions.

Your MC for this evening, Stephen Cunningham, is the Job Partnerships National Co-ordinator. Stephen will oversee the national and regional co-ordination of Job Partnerships, and make sure strong links to the regions are maintained. Stephen will also link all the parties involved: Work and Income, government agencies, employers and industries, and education and training agencies.

Launching Job Partnerships with the hospitality industry

The Hospitality Association of New Zealand is an excellent choice for our first formal Jobs Partnership. The Association has represented people in the hospitality industry for over a hundred years. Its almost two thousand members are committed to growing their industry and employing the right people for the job.

The hospitality industry provides a huge range of employment opportunities for New Zealanders, and we can confidently predict that those employment opportunities will continue to grow.

The industry caters to our desire for sociability, for luxury, for pleasure and, of course, for convenience. Here in New Zealand, it’s clearly delivering what we want: we can see the industry expanding everywhere, in our cities, towns, and rural regions.

The industry is a key driver of our economic growth and provides real career opportunities.

Part of this expansion is thanks to changing social habits among New Zealanders. Many of us now eat out as a matter of course. We use cafes, restaurants, and bars as casual and informal meeting places.

When we throw a party, we sometimes want to do more than put a tray of sausage rolls in the oven and open a few casks of wine. Instead, we might use the expertise of a catering company to feed the guests, rather than put the pressure on ourselves.

Our growing tourism industry is also driving the expansion in our hospitality industry. Whether they are touring a winery or relaxing in the spa at a country retreat, tourists expect quality, and something that is ‘uniquely New Zealand’.

The hospitality industry is responding with exciting and diverse developments, from an eco-lodge by the sea to a four-star hotel with helipad in the middle of Queen Street. Employment opportunities in the hospitality industry will continue to grow with the growth of inbound tourism.

Filling skills shortages in the hospitality industry

Like other growing industries, the hospitality industry has found that its expansion has brought it face to face with skill shortages.

The industry needs people who have food handling and hygiene qualifications. People with customer service, communication, and cash handling skills. Cooks and chefs, bar staff and bar managers, and silver service waiters. It needs people with the high-level service skills that international consumers expect.

The Hospitality Association and Work and Income already have a strong relationship. They have worked closely together over the past few years to provide pre-employment and workplace training in ‘frontline’ hospitality work, such as waiting, portering, and reception duties.

As the Association’s CEO Bruce Robertson puts it, they’ve already ‘done the hard yards’. Training courses have been piloted in centres around New Zealand, getting job seekers ready for work in the hospitality industry.

Now it’s time to roll out this training nationally and in the regions. This will be one of the first achievements of the partnership we’re signing this evening.

What will the Hospitality Association do in the partnership?

The Hospitality Association will play an active role in implementing and monitoring the partnership nationally and in the regions. Promoting the new partnership to employers will now be part of the day-to-day work of Hospitality Association staff around New Zealand.

The Association will also contribute to research into the skills employers need in their workers, now and in the future. It will provide a yearly report on national and regional employment trends.

The Association is committed to ensuring positive employer and employee relationships in the industry. Part of that commitment involves ensuring that training and support continues after the job seeker starts employment. This ongoing training might take the form of a Modern Apprenticeship or study towards NZQA qualifications.

Ongoing workplace learning is an essential part of helping people stay in employment once they move off the unemployment register. Keeping skills relevant and up to date helps ensure that workers can progress along their chosen career path.

The Hospitality Association will work closely with the Hotel Standards Institute, the Industry Training Organisation, and the Tertiary Education Commission to provide support and training for Job Seekers who are newly placed in employment in the hospitality industry.

Sometimes a ‘job stretch’ experience might be needed. A chef in Timaru might benefit enormously from a stint in a bigger hotel in Auckland or Melbourne, while a top barista in Wellington is ready for the café management experience available in Queenstown. The Hospitality Association will take part in arranging these regional and international transfers when needed.

Conclusion

The agreement we’re signing tonight is just the first Job Partnership with Industry we’re entering into. We’re well along the road to signing partnership agreements with the retail, road transport, tourism, and trades industries.

I mentioned at the start of this speech that Job Partnerships with Industry is just one initiative in the new Jobs Jolt package.

While Job Partnerships with Industry is a significant Jobs Jolt initiative, it’s by no means the only one.

Mobile Employment Services enables Work and Income to provide a better service to Job Seekers and employers living in isolated rural areas. These people may have previously had limited access to Work and Income services because of their location.

The Flexible Employment Fund focuses on helping young people make the transition from school to work. It links to the shared Government and Mayors Taskforce objective of having all 15 to 19 year olds engaged in education, training or work by 2007. An ambitious, but achievable goal.

Enhanced Case Management enables Work and Income Case Managers to work more proactively with Sickness and Invalid Beneficiaries. Sickness and Invalid Beneficiaries are offered employment assistance, and helped to set goals that recognise their strengths and address the issues that prevent them from working.

Innovative Employment Assistance funds additional programmes available to clients who are at risk of being on a Sickness Benefit long term, or moving onto an Invalids Benefit.

Jobs Jolt is about helping a wider range of Work and Income client groups into work. Helping more New Zealanders achieve independence through employment and community participation. Building economic growth and community well-being.

We’re here tonight to launch a positive and dynamic initiative that will be a major step forward in achieving the Jobs Jolt goals. We’re here because we want to provide more opportunities to more people; to help them build a better future for themselves and their families. Thank you for coming along tonight to help us celebrate the formal signing of the Job Partnership agreement.

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