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Achieving better employment outcomes will not be easy. The welfare system provides employment support to some of the most disadvantaged New Zealanders. Our recommendations seek to improve their chances of being employed in good and appropriate work.

Our principal recommendation is to rebuild core employment service functions that have been allowed to weaken over many years and to embed these in a wider active labour market system.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommends an enhanced emphasis on early intervention (with partners), provision of specialist employment support, and ongoing pastoral support where needed. This is an approach to effective employment services and active labour markets that is more aligned with the OECD’s Jobs Strategy (OECD, 2018a).

Key recommendations

Employment support

Recommendation 35: Establish an effective employment service of the Ministry of Social Development so it is better able to assist people to obtain and keep good, sustainable work.

Recommendation 36: Revamp active labour market, labour market, employment and training policies across government to make them more coherent and effective.

Recommendation 37: Strengthen the Ministry of Social Development's redundancy support policies to better support displaced workers.

Supporting youth to engage in education, training or paid work

Recommendation 38: Abolish, in the Youth Service, compulsory money management, and separate case management from youth mentoring so it is consistent with and has a positive youth development focus.

Recommendation 39: Use evidence-based approaches that support young people to be learning, earning and, where young people are parents, caring. These approaches need to build on the strengths of young people and provide a basis for their long-term engagement with the changing world of work.

Detailed recommendations

Theme Detail
An effective
employment service

Institute a new operating model that provides people at risk of poor labour market outcomes (including Māori, Pacific People, people with health conditions or disabilities, and people whose jobs have been made redundant) with proactive and sustained support to obtain good, sustainable work.

Increase significantly investment (with appropriate monitoring and reporting) in active labour market programmes.

Establish a dedicated deputy Chief Executive for employment in MSD.

Provide sufficient numbers of well-trained, well-resourced, regional labour market managers and specialist employment case managers in MSD.

Provide public employment services to people at risk of becoming unemployed.

Revamp of Active Labour
Market Programmes,
labour market and
training policies

Review a whole-of-government approach to labour market, training and vocational education (with MSD as an integral partner) with MBIE, Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Pacific Peoples, Tertiary Education Commission, Careers New Zealand, polytechnics, industry training organisations, and regional and local government.

Establish national and regional advisory groups of the social partners (government-business-union), iwi and regional and local government to implement employment and active labour market policies at a national and regional level.

Resource and develop a portfolio of labour market programmes that is driven by local labour market conditions, evidence based, and informed by all relevant national and local labour market data.

Access the best international data and programmes so New Zealand is well placed for a future labour market in which more people might more frequently transition in and out of work and where there is a greater need to support workers to re-skill or up-skill due to displacement or moving in or out of casual work.

Make labour market programmes and work far more accessible for disabled people.

Loss of employment

Establish a short-term (for example, 6 months) benefit for partnered people who lose their jobs or incomes (for example, due to redundancy) through an earnings disregard of their partner’s income (up to a cap) for this period (see the detailed recommendations table in chapter 7).

Adequately fund redundancy support programmes, which include a suite of free or subsidised training and education courses, for workers who experience redundancy.

Ensure people can resume benefits readily (to allow for unpredictable changes in income and to provide people with confidence to take up employment), including removal of income stand-down periods.

Young people supported
to be earning, learning
and, where they are
parents, caring

Increase investment in well coordinated and youth development-focused programmes to help young people into education, training, alternative employment opportunities or volunteering.

Tailor youth initiatives to their communities.

Take an evidence-based approach, informed by the voices of young people and building on the strengths of young people, and provide a basis for their long-term engagement with the changing world of work.

Provide assistance with a specific focus on the needs of rangatahi Māori, Pacific youth and young people with health conditions or disabilities, to provide more equitable outcomes and success for these groups of young people.

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