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New research helps build picture of world of work

9 September 2004

New research helps build picture of world of work in New Zealand

Three new research reports just released will help to build up a more complete picture of New Zealanders’ working lives, Steve Maharey, Minister for Social Development and Employment, said today.

The reports – funded by the Future of Work Contestable Research Fund – gave new insights into the world of work, Steve Maharey said, and will have immediate practical benefits.

Mr Maharey said that at a time when more people were in work than ever before it was vital that policy makers, employers, and industry had a picture of the constraints and opportunities for workers.

Researchers had looked at how people juggle their paid work and their responsibilities to care for older family workers; the training and career aspirations of rural Maori youth; and the impact of new technology on labour demand in the accommodation industry.

Mr Maharey said the research provides information that can be used immediately by agencies in planning workforce strategies. For example, the study by the NZ Institute for Research on Ageing and Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences on combining work and elder care had many findings which will be of immediate interest to health providers.

“Nearly 10 percent of the workers surveyed were caring for older family members,“ said Mr Maharey. “Many working carers said they would like better access to information about care options in the community, to help them to balance their obligations.”

The Department of Labour has a team looking at the Future of Work in New Zealand. Each year the team calls for research proposals, which are funded through a contestable fund. The results of the research are widely disseminated to interested agencies.

In the second report released today, researcher Sally Steedman asked a group of rurally-isolated Maori 15-18-year-olds about their future plans. Most of the students were motivated and had plans for what they wanted to do over the next four years. “It’s great that this research found that these youth were positive in their attitudes and were setting high expectations for themselves,” said Mr Maharey. However the research found that the students had only limited information about financial assistance, career options and paid work.

The third report, from Auckland University of Technology, showed that, in common with the rest of the world, the accommodation sector was becoming increasingly reliant on new technology. “For example, large hotel chains have already invested heavily in technology, and smaller operations are following suit,” said Mr Maharey. “This means that the skills required of people working, or wanting to work, in this sector, are changing.”

The implications of this are clear for agencies providing training for this sector, said Mr Maharey.

Summaries and the full reports are available online at - www.dol.govt.nz/futureofwork

ENDS

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