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Government Needs To Address Its Blind Spot Around Career Expertise And Employment

Last week Hon. Grant Robertson spoke about the government’s desire to generate genuinely sustainable jobs rather than simply shifting people between workplaces. The Prime Minister also emphasised the need to reduce the potential for “churn.” They clearly recognise the cost and impact of getting it wrong, but are not acknowledging the role career professionals can, and should, have in helping New Zealand get this right.

Supporting businesses to retain staff, incentivising the creation of new jobs, and empowering people to re-train to re-position themselves in the job market are all positive moves. These interventions assume job seekers have the skills, awareness, and information to make major choices about their life and work without professional guidance. We know this is not the case; in times of stress and uncertainty people often do not make good choices.

Covid-19 has proven that New Zealand does not have a ready and responsive career support infrastructure in a time of crisis. The responsibility for helping vulnerable New Zealanders in these extremely difficult times is being thrust upon a variety of government staff and providers, many of whom have no training or experience in this complex area. Career decision-making isn’t just about job matching. None of the government funded Covid-19 response programmes currently offer career support by trained professionals. Career professionals are, however, being deployed privately by organisations who can afford to help their displaced workers with career change and job search programmes. The government needs to ensure all New Zealanders have access to professional support, not just those who can afford it – this inequity should not be allowed to continue.

The support of a career professional increases the chances of obtaining a job within six months by almost three times – why are only some people able to access this service? This government has stressed its commitment to social equity, and we would like to see this delivered for all people suffering job loss, not just white-collar workers from multi-national companies. In the same way we all believe that every New Zealander should have access to specialist medical advice for their physical health, everyone in need should be able to access career expertise for their financial and emotional wellbeing. It is well documented that job loss, change, and workplace stress impact negatively on mental health. We are in dire times – we need to deliver the best solution. Throwing money and people at a problem won’t fix it if they’re not the right people for the job.

The Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ) believes the blind spot would be resolved by the development and implementation of a National Strategy for Careers and Employability, with the goal of making effective and appropriate career development support accessible to all New Zealanders. Career professionals work in education, health, business, and the community. A cross-ministry approach that utilises industry specialists in concert with other interventions, such as the online application currently in development, would see greater efficiencies in service provision, whilst making the system easier for New Zealanders to navigate. In both the short and long term this would help mitigate the “churn” and mean those resources committed to supporting the New Zealand workforce contribute more effectively to our economic recovery and worker wellbeing.

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