For immediate release
— Wellington, Monday 8 August 2011.
Funding mismanagement and policy disarray dumps more unemployed on scrap heap.
The accidental blowout of the tertiary funding agency’s 2009/2010 budget will reduce the chances of people moving from the benefit to work as employment training places are cut, The Salvation Army says.
The dire situation is also pushing the employment training sector further into crisis after a five year funding freeze.
The Salvation Army’s employment training arm, Employment Plus, is now reviewing the future of its 30 years in the training sector in light of the cuts and what is sees as a diminishing Government strategy to move the unemployed into work.
Employment Plus' reassessment of its position follows the Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC) recent notice that it would cut funding by 14 per cent for the 2011/2012 year, as a result of last year’s budget mismanagement by the TEC. Other training providers face similar cuts, which follow a five year funding freeze.
Salvation Army Social Services Director Major Campbell Roberts says: “The crucial issue here is that a portion of out-of-work New Zealanders need specialist support in solving the often complex issues around their unemployment, but instead these people are increasingly being written-off and dumped on the margins of society.
“There’s a harsh irony when the political conversation emphasises the need to prepare beneficiaries for work, yet the training that equips these people to enter the workforce is being slowly killed off,” he says.
Attempts to meet with Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce to discuss the funding crisis have been rebuffed.
Major Roberts says that after years of neglect, the sector is now in disarray and has reached the point where there are no more efficiencies to be made, leaving the options of cutting programmes or shutting up shop.
Last year, The Salvation Army was funded to provide 611 employment training places, but used the money to train 1416 unemployed people across the country. More than 1200 completed the programmes, with 758, or 63 per cent, placed in work or additional training to obtain additional skills relevant to their career aims. Of the 758, 65 per cent were placed in work and 35 percent in training.
Employment Plus is now faced with a funding cut of $240,000 for the 2012 calendar year.