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Steve Maharey - Jobs, partnerships, action

Hon. Steve Maharey
20 July 2005 Speech Notes

Jobs, partnerships, action

Address to launch of the 2005/06 Work and Income Regional Plans

Introduction

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to this year’s launch of the Work and Income Regional Plans for 2005/06. It’s great to see you all here today.

This is an excellent time for us to be launching the new Work and Income Regional Plans. The economy is growing, employment is at a record-high and Work and Income has achieved excellent results over the past 12 months at getting people into jobs. These Plans show how you’ll build on this progress, to give an even bigger boost to regional employment and social development.

Let’s review these excellent results. With more than two million New Zealanders now in work, we have the second-lowest unemployment rate in the OECD.

At the end of June, the number of people receiving an unemployment benefit was down to just over 50,000 – a 26% drop since 2004, and a massive 66 per cent drop since 1999.

The recent OECD report, Employment Outlook 2005, stated that the work -focused programmes delivered by Work and Income have contributed to New Zealand’s rapid increase in employment over the past few years. We are now an international success story for active employment assistance, and much of that success can be laid at the door of Work and Income.


Getting New Zealanders working

You’ve done fantastically well. You’ve been out there on the frontline, in our communities and across our regions. You’ve been out there building relationships, forming partnerships, leading and contributing to all sorts of programmes that deliver real and positive results.

These programmes include the Jobs Jolt package of initiatives that we launched in 2003, providing targeted support for particular groups of Job Seekers, like youth, mature workers, and people with disabilities. They include the community-based Youth Transitions Services, drawing together government and community support for young school leavers at risk of missing out on work or training. They include Job Partnerships with Industry, of which we’ve signed 11 with eight more under development, filling skills gaps and training Job Seekers for good careers in our growing industries. And they include the New Service for Sickness and Invalids Benefit clients, delivering a whole range of services to support clients who want to work.

All these programmes and initiatives are delivered by local partners at the local level. They’re tailored to fit local needs and complemented by projects that drive regional job growth. Finally, they’re delivered by a talented and committed group of people with the skills, knowledge, and energy to get things happening and keep them moving.

The 2005/06 Regional Plans build on all this activity, and include new programmes like Enterprising Communities, a group that will work with industry to support economic and employment growth. Social Development Regional Commissioners and Social Development Managers will work with local authorities as they develop and action Long Term Council Community Plans, setting out the community’s goals and how to achieve them. With its strong relationships and its daily contact with thousands of New Zealanders, Work and Income is ideally placed to contribute to this kind of activity. Regional policy teams will continue to research local issues, evaluate local programmes, and ensure that regional matters get a hearing at national level.

A wider role

All this is part of the wider role Work and Income has developed over the past year, a role that broadens your mandate to include regional social development. Your Regional Plans reflect this mandate through their three strategic objectives: sustainable employment, social development in action, and participation.

Sustainable employment is also about supporting people into good jobs that last. Social development in action is about promoting wellbeing and tackling disadvantage in our communities. Participation is about assisting people for whom work is not an immediate option to take part in their communities and to prepare for work if and when their circumstances allow.

Social development is about investing in people. It’s about working in partnership to deliver local solutions to local issues. It’s about looking at the big picture of people’s lives – their home, family, and community – not treating them as isolated units. Social development is about supporting people into work and economic independence, not about just processing benefits. It’s about developing solutions from the grassroots up, so communities have ownership of the very programmes that support their development.

All this is evident in the 2005/06 Work and Income Regional Plans. I congratulate you all for your achievements past and still to come.

Thank you.

ENDS

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