· COMMUNITY ENTERPRISES GOING STRONG
· LIVING STANDARDS RESEARCH
· SECTOR LEADERSHIP SOUGHT FOR TERTIARY REFORMS
· FUNDING ADDRESSES SKILL NEEDS
· REGIONAL TV LICENCES GRANTED
· UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UP, MORE PEOPLE IN WORK
COMMUNITY ENTERPRISES GOING STRONG
Fifty-six community-based enterprises providing services in areas as diverse as recycling, tourism and silviculture are now operating with
support from the government's Community Employment Organisation (CEO) initiative.
The Community Employment Group's CEO initiative supports the creation of community enterprises, not in competition with other operators, to provide services for community development. A mix of advisory support and financial assistance is provided, including establishment grants for the community enterprises and wage subsidies for formerly unemployed people taken on by those community enterprises. To date just over $2.5m in grant funding has been paid to the 56 enterprises and $1m has be spent on job subsidies for 212 former beneficiaries now employed with them. A further 528 unsubsidised jobs have been created by the community enterprises.
Vanished World Inc (Oamaru) provide guided tours of fossil sites for local and overseas visitors. It has created three jobs. It has established partnerships with other heritage tourism operators and is working with tourism organisations and hotel chains in terms of marketing and promoting packages for tourists. Spin-offs for local hospitality service providers have been generated and it is expected that they will multiply following the completion of a new Fossil Centre;
Te Whanau Paneke Inc (Lower Hutt) runs a tourist-oriented retail outlet called Mâori Treasures and provides support for local Mâori artists. It is employing 10 people (seven of which are subsidies positions), exceeding its target of 9 jobs. It has established a harakeke supply network for weavers, who in turn supply Mâori Treasures with woven items. A spin-off has been the development of a cottage industry of weavers, painters, and potters who market their work through Mâori Treasures. Other iwi and Pacific groups are looking at Mâori Treasures with a view to establishing their own outlets based on the Mâori Treasures model; and,
Whaingaroa Harbour Care (Raglan) runs a service to improve water quality and marine life through harbour fringe plantings. It has won a Green Ribbon Conservation Award for services to the environment. It is employing 4 people (three of which are subsidies positions), exceeding its target of 3 jobs. It has quickly matured to the stage where it is operating independently.
It is anticipated that further community enterprises will be established with the support of the CEO initiative in the coming year.
LIVING STANDARDS RESEARCH
New research released by the Ministry of Social Development is an important contribution to our understanding of how to raise the living standards of all New Zealanders. New Zealand Living Standards 2000 was produced by the Ministry's Centre for Social Research and Evaluation. It is the fifth report in a series which has also looked at the living standards of older New Zealanders (released in 2001) and of older Maori (released last month). This series is part of an effort by the government to build a proper evidence base to inform social policy decisions and future investments.
Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said the research is essential for a government strongly committed to investing in New Zealanders because it will give the government detailed information about the best ways to combat poverty in our society. New research tools developed by the Ministry during the preparation of the report will give the government detailed information about the best ways to combat poverty in our society. Steve Maharey said the research is not simply an academic exercise. Boosting living standards is not just about ensuring lower income New Zealanders have more to spend. For example, the report shows that further investments to make work pay is a more effective way to close the poverty gap than some other options. The research is now being used to refine the government's reform of the benefit system and the implementation of the Agenda for Children. The Living Standards Research Programme will continue next year.
SECTOR LEADERSHIP SOUGHT FOR TERTIARY REFORMS
Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey urged delegates attending the recent Association of Polytechnics in New Zealand conference to seize the opportunities opened up by the government's tertiary education reforms. The reformed tertiary education system will not be run by remote-control from Wellington ? instead a new culture, set of expectations and incentives is being put in place to enable providers to define their niche and flourish within it.
Steve Maharey told delegates that there is a middle way between a laissez-faire competitive model and a highly centralized control model which the government's reforms are predicated on. Possibly the biggest challenge for the tertiary sector will be an increased need, in light of the new culture and new incentives, to respond collectively, as a sector, rather than each institution working in isolation. The role of the Tertiary Education Commission will not be to direct all the operations of this system, but instead to facilitate, coordinate and sometimes to ask searching questions.
On the web:
the full-text of Steve Maharey's address is on-line at www.beehive.govt.nz/maharey
FUNDING ADDRESSES SKILL NEEDS
Funding worth $17 million has been distributed to private training establishments (PTE) to help address skill shortages emerging across the regions of New Zealand. The funding from the PTE Strategic Priorities Fund was put aside as part of the $146m total allocation for PTEs in 2003 announced as part of the budget this year. Applications were invited for programmes that were able to demonstrate alignment with the tertiary education strategy. Forty-eight providers will receive $16.8 million in tuition subsidies in 2003 to educate 2,782 equivalent full-time students (EFTS). Courses leading to 121 qualifications will be supported, with studies in design (549 EFTS, $3.7m), computing and information technology (338 EFTS, $2.1m) and culture and the arts (267 EFTS, $1.8m) receiving nearly half the funding. Additional funding may become available for priority programmes because savings generated from PTEs exiting the system or experiencing enrolment decline will be reinvested in the Fund.
REGIONAL TV LICENCES GRANTED
The people of the East Coast and Pahiatua are to get new local television services. Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey said he has granted non-commercial television licences to the East Coast Television Trust (which operates out of Gisborne) and the Tararua Television Charitable Trust (which operates out of Pahiatua). The stations will broadcast a combination of locally-made and internationally-sourced programmes. With non-commercial UHF licences now approved both trusts can now get on with setting up their infrastructure and their planning to go to air.
The allocation of these two frequencies follows consideration of expressions of interest in them which the government called for in December 2001. As non-commercial broadcasters East Coast TV and Tararua Television were required to present a business plan demonstrating that they are viable within the agreed restriction on advertising revenue and without having to seek funding from government and NZ on Air.
Meanwhile Steve Maharey has indicated that the government remains committed to supporting local content on regional television. Labour's broadcasting policy indicates support for the growth of regional television, including through support from New Zealand on Air. Additional funding for New Zealand on Air to enable it to support regional television will be sought through the budget process.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE UP, MORE PEOPLE IN WORK
It may sound a bit like a trick with smoke and mirrors but Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey for the September 2002 quarter recorded New Zealand's official unemployment rate at 5.4 percent ? up from 5.1 percent for the June 2002 quarter. This was despite 3,000 more New Zealanders finding employment in the September 2002 quarter, most of which was full time employment. A fall in the number of New Zealanders leaving the country (the so-called 'brain stay' phenomenon) increased the labour force which, despite continued strong employment growth, led to the small rise in the official unemployment rate.
Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is e-launching a new portal to help people find information about working in New Zealand on Monday ? and you are invited. The site is designed for students, employees and employers. Log on to the web launch by 2pm this coming Monday (November 25) at http:// http://www.dol.govt.nz/worksitelaunch.html.