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Sociologist asks: “Who ate my job?”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sociologist asks: “Who ate my job?”

Youth unemployment rates have doubled since the Global Financial Crisis and young New Zealanders looking for work need to develop stronger ‘soft skills’ if they want to find work, says Massey University sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley.

Professor Spoonley will speak at Capable Whangarei on August 14 and look at the challenges and opportunities facing young people entering the work force. Since the late 1990s, he has led Massey University’s Labour Market Dynamics Programme, which has monitored changes in the New Zealand labour force.

His talk – “Who ate my job?” – will focus on the effect of the global financial crisis on work prospects and employment for 15 to 25-year-olds.

“On the negative side, the crisis has increased youth unemployment. This means that employers today will expect young people to have post-secondary school qualifications and to have well-developed soft skills – good communication, IT and inter-personal skills, as well as good work habits,” Professor Spoonley says.

His suggestion to parents and students is to think about more than just academic achievement and to consider things like involvement in youth groups, sports, bands and other community activities to build up a good skills base and a way of demonstrating awareness and leadership.

Professor Spoonley was invited to speak by Pat Cody, Practice Leader at Careers New Zealand in Whangarei and convener of Capable Whangarei, which is bringing together a cross sector group of local schools, tertiary education providers and employer groups.

Capable Whangarei is developing a cohesive and collaborative career system that helps young people make successful transitions from secondary education and tertiary learning into employment.

Mr Cody said Professor Spoonley’s message is at the heart of the work being done by Careers New Zealand and the Capable Whangarei group in ensuring that young people in the region were engaged, and able to navigate their career options and successfully transition into training and employment.

‘New Zealand and Whangarei have an ageing workforce. We need our young people to have opportunities to express their potential through employment.” Mr Cody said.

If agencies, learning institutions or businesses are interested in attending this event or joining the Capable Whangarei network, please contact Pat Cody through


Paul Spoonley

Professor Paul Spoonley is the Research Director for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University. He is the leader of two programmes, one on labour market changes in New Zealand and the other is the Integration of Immigrants’ Programme, which received $3 million to examine the economic settlement outcomes for immigrants in Auckland.

He is the author or editor of 27 books dealing with the nature of work and employment, ethnic relations and politics. Recent books include Mata Toa. The Life and Times of Ranginui Walker (2009), Welcome to Our World and Immigration and the Transformation of New Zealand (2012) and a book on social cohesion (2012). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and received their Science and Technology Medal (2010) for his contribution to cultural understanding. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley in 2010.

Capable Whangarei

Capable Whangarei is an initiative being coordinated and led by Careers New Zealand. It is a cross sector group of representatives from schools, learning institutions and employers. Capable Whangarei aims to create a career system locally that young people can navigate, engage in, and use for successful transitions. Careers New Zealand defines the Career System as a complex mix of stakeholders, providers and influencers that contribute to the delivery of education, skills development, career development support and employment for New Zealanders.


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