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News & Happenings From Hon Steve Maharey

News & Happenings From The Office Of Hon Steve Maharey

SOCIAL PROSPECTS FOR 2004 POSITIVE
EMPLOYMENT GROWTH EXPECTED
TEACHING AND LEARNING QUALITY
APPOINTED
UPDATES


SOCIAL PROSPECTS FOR 2004 POSITIVE

Improving social statistics give the government confidence that 2004 will deliver a further year of social development, Steve Maharey told the Takaro Rotary Club last week during a social 'state of the nation' address.

The speech drew on social indicators data from the Ministry of Social Development which records a steady improvement in the position of New Zealanders over the last five year, including people living longer, a more prosperous and safe society, a better educated population, and a lot less unemployment.

Turning his attention to the kinds of policies being put in place to improve the social state of our nation, Steve Maharey focused on 4 key areas:

investing in lifelong education to help people achieve their potential, raise their capacity to add value to the economy, take charge of their lives and make a contribution to their families and communities;

efforts underway to create more demand for labour, increase people's access to paid work, and provide better rewards for employment;

changes in the welfare state to ensure the benefits system provides security for those who need it and leads to work opportunities for those who can take them; and

an emphasis on developing strong communities resourced to support people, families and the communities themselves to run their own lives.

During his comments Steve Maharey also took aim at National leader Don Brash's recent comments criticising the government for customising social services to meet the particular needs of Maori, an approach that the data reveals is delivering results. In the attached opinion piece he asks whether New Zealanders really want a return to the days of monolithic state agencies.

Steve Maharey also indicated that he will be seeking Cabinet's agreement this year to introduce legislation requiring all future governments to report on social outcomes. Social reporting by governments will ensure that we never again get into a situation where the social well being of the nation is ignored or marginalized. The statistics would sit alongside economic data the government currently produces to give an overall picture of the nation's social and economic development

On the web:

People First - the Social State of the Nation Opinion: 'Is Don Brash the Henry Ford of New Zealand Politics?', both at

http://www.beehive.govt.nz/maharey

EMPLOYMENT GROWTH EXPECTED

The year is set to be a positive one on the job front. The Department of Labour has released its six-monthly regional labour market reports. They utilise a number of statistical measures and provide information about labour market conditions in each of Work and Income's regions along with a discussion of the expected outlook. The most recent reports point to a strongly performing domestic economy driving job growth in the major metropolitan cities and, in turn, providing the impetus for job growth in other regions. This pattern is expected to change in 2005 as a strengthening in exports acts to boost more rural regional labour markets.

The forecasts follow the release in December of the latest stocktake of the government's Employment Strategy. It shows employment grew by 3.3 percent (or 61,000 new jobs) and unemployment fell to its lowest level in 16 years in the year to September 2003. Most of these jobs (51,000) were full-time positions.

Meanwhile students are also reaping the advantages of New Zealand's buoyant employment market and are being placed into jobs of longer duration this summer. By mid-January applications to StudyLink for the Unemployment Benefit (Student Hardship) were down nearly 2,400 this year and Student Job Search had placed students in to more than 94,000 weeks of work, an increase of more 2,600 weeks on last summer.

On the web: regional labour market reports, www.dol.govt.nz/lmr-regional.asp Employment Strategy: Progress to Date,

http://www.dol.govt.nz/publication-view.asp?ID=179

TEACHING AND LEARNING QUALITY

A new Enhancing Quality Project is to investigate how existing quality assurance arrangements can be enhanced to support better teaching and learning - part of moves to develop a stronger 'culture of quality' within the tertiary education sector. It was recommended by the now disbanded Tertiary Education Advisory Commission.

Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said the project will help realise an objective of the Tertiary Education Strategy that 'learners and the wider public have confidence in high levels of quality throughout the system'. It will be guided by an expert working group drawn from the tertiary education sector. An scoping exercise is now underway to seek the opinions of stakeholders on the key issues to be included for investigation.

Meanwhile Steve Maharey is welcoming plans by the New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers to establish a Quality Commissioner for the private tertiary education sector. The plans also include a new code of ethical practices towards students, model grievance processes and the introduction of Quality Mark standards to NZAPEP members. The Association represents providers catering for over 60 percent of the students studying with private training establishments. Steve Maharey said the government would welcome other private trainers organisations working with NZAPEP on the proposal so they can also offer greater protection to their students.

APPOINTED

Appointments to several organisations have been made since our last issue:

former television executive Paul France to the board of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, replacing Rodney Bryant. Current board member Diane Musgrave has been reappointed;

Retired District Court Judge John Gatley as the sole member of the Student Allowance Appeal Authority;

EDS Managing Director Rick Ellis to the Board of Radio New Zealand, replacing Liz Hickey. Current chair Brian Corban has been reappointed;

Ministry of Social Development Chief Executive Peter Hughes to the Board of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust; and

General Manager of Ngati Kahu Social Services Robyn Corrigan was elected by the Social Worker Registration Board as its inaugural chairperson. Clinical social worker Buster Curson was elected deputy chairperson.

UPDATES

More than 200 people attended the New Future for Public Broadcasting conference called to debate the role of New Zealand's public service broadcasters in today's world. Papers delivered by the international and national speakers have been posted to the conference website at www.newfuture.govt.nz. Meanwhile the Ministry for Culture and Heritage continues to analyse submissions from public and private broadcasting stakeholders on future directions.

StudyLink will continue to receive applications for the new Step Up scholarships until March. The bonded scholarships are being piloted with students beginning human and animal health degrees this year and pay most tuition costs. www.studylink.govt.nz.

More than 2000 young people expressed an interest in the new Work and Income case manager cadetships. Because of the overwhelming interest in the scheme, announced in November by Associate Social Development and Employment Minister Rick Barker, the number of places available has been increased to 110 cadetships. Over 50 percent of the candidates invited for an interview were themselves previous Work and Income clients.

So far 89 families have moved in to their first home with the assistance of a KiwiBank In Reach mortgage. They are the first to benefit from a two-year pilot mortgage insurance partnership with Housing New Zealand Corporation that enables the bank to reduce the risk of lending to people with little or no deposit. Kiwibank is expected to approve about 1,800 loans as part of this trial, which may be extended and offered through a wider range of banks if successful.

The second Social Policy Research and Evaluation conference will be held in Wellington on 25 and 26 November 2004. It brings together national and international researchers, practitioners and evaluators and focuses this year on 'What Works?'. Around 800 delegates are expected.

One hundred and eighty-six formal expressions of interest were received from people seeking appointment to Families Commission, which is being established on 1 July to advocate for the interests of families. An independent interview panel will undertake interviews with short-listed candidates and appointments expected to be made in May. Up to three full-time and three part-time commissioners will be appointed.


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