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National Strategy For Careers And Employability Is The enduring Solution Grant Robertson Is Seeking

In announcing the Covid Income Relief Payment this week the Hon. Grant Robertson stated the Government is also considering an “enduring solution” to support New Zealanders experiencing job loss beyond the current crisis. The Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ) welcomes this news but also asks: where is a National Strategy for Careers and Employability that would underpin such an initiative?

While the permanent unemployment insurance scheme proposed by Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions has real potential it must include a career development component to succeed. Alongside that recommendation, the Productivity Commission’s final report on Technology and the Future of Work (March 2020) also recommended “development of quality careers advice and services for New Zealanders of all ages”.

Career development lies at the heart of three main policy areas:

· The effective functioning of the labour market and, through this, the economy

· The effective functioning of the education system

· Social equity, health, and wellbeing

Yet it is noticeably absent from New Zealand’s public policy in any practical, resourced manner.

It is ironic that we have a National Strategy for Financial Capability as is evident in this release from Minister Sepuloni this week, but no strategic approach to careers and employability.

In 2009 New Zealand was a world leader in career development, and hosted the Symposium for the International Center for Career Development and Public Policy. Just over a decade later, when other OECD countries have implemented national strategies, our nation’s careers infrastructure has been systematically dismantled. Careers New Zealand, where everyday New Zealanders once accessed free, quality careers advice, no longer exists.

While the Tertiary Education Commission was given the mandate to deliver a cross-ministry Careers System Strategy for all ages and stages in 2017, after three years we are yet to see the delivery of any services to support New Zealanders through this period of massive change in labour market dynamics so publicised across all media for some years, and against all advice received from experts here and overseas.

If the government is serious about “cushioning the blow” for New Zealanders who are underemployed, in precarious employment, or made redundant, resourcing and implementation of a National Strategy for Careers and Employability is the “enduring solution”. Such a strategy would serve all New Zealanders, incorporating an Employment Insurance Scheme as well as targeted support for at-risk groups – Maori, Pasifika, students and whanau, youth, the aging workforce, people with disabilities, offenders returning to the workforce, veterans, migrants and refugees seeking meaningful work, and more.

In 2017 a key recommendation of the OECD report Back to Work New Zealand: Improving the re-employment prospects of displaced workers was to “strengthen career guidance and training counselling to better support adult workers in their training decisions.” There was a clear recognition in this report that this was a role for skilled career counsellors.

Further reading:

· Career Development Works!, Career Development Association of Australia (2020)

· Productivity Commission’s Final Report on Technological Change and the Future of Work, (Mar 2020)

· Scotland’s Careers Strategy – Moving Forward, Recent example of a National Careers Strategy (Feb 2020)

· Investing in career guidance, a joint statement from the OECD, ILO, UNESCO, the EU Commission, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, and the European Training Foundation Investing in Career Guidance (Dec 2019)

· Back to Work New Zealand: Improving the re-employment prospects of displaced workers, OECD (2017)

· .The Economic Benefits of Career Guidance, Hooley, T. and Dodd, V. Careers England (2015).

Recent announcements that could have been supported by an infrastructure built around a National Strategy for Careers and Employability:

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/redeployment-workers-hard-hit-regions

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/147m-jobs-training-and-education

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/tailored-help-supports-new-type-job-seeker-report

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/modern-approach-night-classes

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/budget-2020-jobs-and-opportunities-primary-sector

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/jobs-budget-get-economy-moving-again

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/budget-2020-focus-jobs-businesses

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/free-trades-training-support-new-zealanders-work

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/11-billion-investment-create-11000-environment-jobs-our-regions

· https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/biosecurity-and-conservation-jobs-redeployed-workers

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