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Beneficiary Shake-up Will Struggle Without Clear Pathways To Work

The National Party’s move to ‘shake up’ the benefits system, including ‘work check-ins’, is designed to get people off the benefit and into work. However, this ‘big stick’ approach will struggle unless beneficiaries are offered a viable career pathway.

The CEO of Customer Contact Network New Zealand (CCNNZ), Elias Kanaris, said customer contact centres are desperate for staff and, in his experience, most beneficiaries want to work but need more self-belief, proper training and clear opportunities.

“You can’t beat people into going to find work, especially if they lack confidence and opportunities – this is particularly true in rural areas and towns where jobs are scarce. CCNNZ has worked with the Ministry of Social Development to transition more than 300 people off the benefit through training and a clear path into work over the last three years – but we need more.”

Kanaris said CCNNZ is working with MSD Waikato to put 40 candidates through training this year.

“The success rate is over 70 per cent in the three years we have worked with MSD. We are currently in talks with MSD in Southland, but we would love to work with MSD partners in other regions,” Kanaris said.

He said that while a small minority may not want to get off the benefit, the vast majority – instilled with self-belief, the right encouragement, and opportunities to work – are willing to get out there and do.

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“Contact centre employment is relatively unique in that it gives beneficiaries who live remotely the ability to work just about anywhere.”

Kanaris said that when access to funding was centralised by the previous government, requiring companies to apply for funding themselves, beneficiaries increasingly missed out because many companies chose to invest the funds in existing staff rather than taking a chance on somebody on the benefit.

“Unfortunately, some companies have this perception that beneficiaries do not make good employees, but with the right training, support, and certification – coupled with personal development – everybody wins.

“If National is serious about getting people into work, I would encourage them review the funding, training, and pathway to careers as it currently exists.”

Kanaris said CCNNZ is calling for three things to happen to help beneficiaries off the benefit in a constructive, positive and lasting way.

  1. Greater awareness of the CCNNZ programme and other similar programmes among MSD staff, media, and beneficiaries.
  2. For other MSD regions to work with CCNNZ expand the programme.
  3. For employers looking for entry-level staff to talk to CCNNZ so that they can be connected with candidates.

Kanaris said the CCNNZ programme involves interviews and screening, followed by an eight-week online and classroom training course, a final coaching session, and assistance with updating CVs and applying for jobs.

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