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Education and employment improvements in Manukau

10 November 2004

Education and employment improvements in Manukau

The latest social indicator statistics show a substantial improvement in education achievement levels and a drop in unemployment in Manukau over the 2003 year, with unemployment falling to a record low of 5.3%. The figures are contained in a new report to Manukau City Council.

There has been a big improvement in achievement among Maori and Pacific school leavers. Between 2001 and 2003 the proportion of Maori students leaving school with no qualifications fell from 41% to 35% and the proportion of Pacific students in the same category fell from 29% to 23%. However only 4-5% of Maori and Pacific students are achieving bursary and university entrance qualifications, a level of achievement well below national levels.

16% of Manukau students left school last year with no qualifications, compared to the national rate of 15%.

The booming economy over the past year has translated into many more jobs and a reduction in the unemployment rate. The official unemployment rate fell to 5.3% over the year to June 2004 is down from 6.2% the year before. It is slightly higher than the national rate of 4%.

Fewer people are now on benefits. The numbers receiving income support of all kinds fell by 1.7% over the year to June 2004 and is now 57,619. The number receiving the unemployment benefit fell 23% to 7679 and the number of applicants seeking help from foodbanks has halved.

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says the past year has been one of great progress in many areas, with the growing economy being the prime cause. "That is why we put so much emphasis on developing and promoting the local economy. It has so many benefits - it isn't just the businesses which benefit. Everyone benefits from a thriving, vibrant economy that creates jobs by the thousands.

Among the factors helping to foster growth is the stance of the Council. "We are very pro-business but in a very responsible way, and I believe we are business-friendly," Sir Barry says.

The Council is guided by its economic development policy, a strategy designed to make Manukau the most desirable location for enterprise, business and investment in New Zealand and the Pacific Rim. To realize this goal requires: " High growth and sustainable enterprise " Increased opportunities for employment for Manukau residents " Improved standard of living and quality of life for the people of Manukau

Upskilling the workforce and improving the educational levels is another key element, and that is the prime reason for the Council, the government agencies and key stakeholders recently setting up a taskforce.

The Council is also working with other agencies to plan the setting up of another tertiary education institution in the city. It is also running a cadet scheme with 30 young people being taken on each year for work experience. The scheme is proving very successful, with 87% of last year's intake moving into paid jobs.

But Sir Barry says, "As the school leaver statistics indicate, there are too many students leaving school in Manukau without qualifications, or with no plans to go on to higher education and get professional qualifications.

"The large number of working age residents with no qualifications or marketable skills in Manukau is a growing problem because there will in future be few jobs for workers without qualifications or skills.

"Over the next 8 years there will be 40,000 new jobs created for city residents but only 8% of those will be unskilled jobs not requiring formal qualifications. Unless that situation is turned around there will be enormous economic and social costs associated with this skills shortage. Businesses will be crying out for staff they cannot get, while a pool of unemployed is shut out of the job market because they don't have the skills or qualifications needed."


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