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Work-focused welfare will ease labour shortages

Work-focused welfare will ease labour shortages

A major reform of the welfare system over the next two years will be part of the solution to New Zealand's labour shortages, Employment Minister Steve Maharey told business groups today.

Speaking to business leaders in Papakura, Steve Maharey said a single benefit and expanded employment services would help to boost the number of workers available to employers, and assist employers to address labour shortages.

"In a climate of labour shortages, it is essential that we harness the potential capacity of all New Zealanders who are able to work," Steve Maharey said. "The new simplified benefit system will focus on work outcomes for all beneficiaries, not just the 20 percent of beneficiaries on an Unemployment Benefit.

"These changes recognise that the majority of people on a benefit want to work but can often find the current system a barrier to getting off a benefit and into a job."

The new system will also provide enhanced services for employers by matching clients' skills and experience to the needs of employers and industries.

Steve Maharey said that addressing skill shortages in the long term required government and employers to think differently about work and workers. "If we can get the incentives right we can more readily tap into the skills and talents of all potential workers. This is a challenge for both government and employers."

The proposed changes to the benefit system were announced in February. Pilots of the new service model are being rolled out in 11 centres next month, with legislation for a single benefit to be introduced later this year.

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