Local insights report: July 2023

Tāmaki Makaurau local insights report for July 2023. Focus on Tāngata Whaikaha.

You are welcome to quote from any report below – please attribute the Tāmaki Makaurau Regional Skills Leadership Group, an independent advisory group on regional skills and workforce development. ​

Regional insights

Tāngata Whaikaha or people with disabilities are a key demographic group

Tāngata Whaikaha or people with disabilities are a key demographic group in the Tāmaki Makaurau Regional Workforce Plan.

Over the March to June period the Tāmaki Makaurau RSLG carried out stakeholder engagement with Tāngata Whaikaha representatives, from both the supply and demand side of the labour market in the region, to gain their insights.

Finding our name(external link) — Whaikaha | Ministry of Disabled People

Tāmaki Makaurau Regional Workforce Plan

Employers need support to ensure a safe working environment for Tāngata Whaikaha

Employers noted they need support with their planning to ensure a safe working environment for onboarding and employing Tāngata Whaikaha.

Many organisations are working towards becoming more attractive to workers from marginalized communities, including signalling responsiveness to reasonable accommodations in job descriptions. However, more support is needed for employers to consider disabled workers in organisational health and safety policies. Potential workplace health and safety hazards vary across the disability spectrum, so risks are not always known upfront. This poses an initial barrier for many employers which results in hesitancy when hiring Tāngata Whaikaha.

Resonable accommodation (measures)(external link) — Employment New Zealand

Our employer stakeholders have emphasised that in many cases, this is a barrier that can be overcome if there are resources to help navigate this kōrero beforehand and to co-design a needs assessment for workplaces prior to onboarding which would allow safe induction and employment placement for both employee and workplace.

Feedback from Tāngata Whaikaha stakeholders support utilising advisors and wrap around support services to facilitate this kōrero between disabled workers and potential employers, such as the services outlined in the Disabled Persons Assembly’s Resources for Employers.

Resources for Employers(external link) — Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA)

It is important that Tāngata Whaikaha feel comfortable with disclosing their needs to potential employers without the risk of being discriminated against or impeding their chances of successful employment. To do this, a visible, upfront commitment to equitable employment of tāngata whaikaha is needed from employers.

RSLG can add value by coordinating and promoting avenues for support

Insights from Tāngata Whaikaha and industry show that the RSLG can add value by coordinating and promoting avenues for support.

This includes:

  • supporting employment working groups with different disabilities – there are resources and funding within the system which we could influence industry to leverage
  • cultivating a relationship with The Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA) – by tapping into these insights and resources, RSLG is poised to coordinate a regional workforce response
  • demonstrating that representation matters – in 2023, the RSLG were intentional in onboarding new members who can specifically help to amplify the voice of Tāngata Whaikaha in our work.

By the numbers

Data on Tāngata Whaikaha participation in the labour market is limited, which supports regional insights that the aspirations of those with a disability are not being realised within our employment market.

Tāngata whaikaha are 3x more likely to not be in training and employment - almost 30% of people with disabilities aged between 18 and 64 years in Tāmaki Makaurau have no formal qualifications.

Only 41.5% of working age disabled people are employed – this is compared with 80.4% of working-age non-disabled people in the same-period (as at June 2022).

34% of disabled women have no educational qualification, compared with 15% of non-disabled women.


Working Matters Dashboard report(external link) — Ministry of Social Development

Key Facts about Disability in New Zealand(external link) — Office for Disability Issues

Top labour market opportunities

Tāngata Whaikaha have a range of skills and experience which deserve to be celebrated and honoured within the workforce. Those with a disability identify as many things – so supporting Tāngata Whaikaha also means lifting the outcomes for other marginalised communities such as Māori, Pasifika, rainbow and women. To lift their participation in the local labour market the focus for the RSLG is to leverage what is already active in the region.

Resources for employers for attracting, recruiting and retaining a disabled workforce

Disabled Persons Assembly have collated a range of Resources for employers for attracting, recruiting and retaining a disabled workforce. These resources include practical tips for managers; links to research that explores the economic costs of excluding disabled people; and advice on where financial assistance can be found. This resource will be used to support the RSLG’s action progress on establishing employment working groups to help address specific needs for different disabilities.

Resources for Employers(external link) — Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA)

Oranga Mahi programme

Oranga Mahi is a programme provided by MSD to support people with disabilities and/or health conditions to improve their wellbeing and enter sustainable employment. It has been funded as part of the 2023 budget to provide 6 health and employment trial services. These services are delivered in partnership with community organisations to support Tāngata Whaikaha in their wellbeing and employment aspirations.

The Training Incentive Allowance

The Training Incentive Allowance provided by the Ministry of Social Development supports Tāngata Whaikaha to engage in higher level study. This assists with both one-off costs, such as course fees or equipment, and ongoing costs, such as childcare and transport. The RSLG will coordinate with their regional stakeholders and partners to promote uptake of this allowance to increase engagement across the region.

Top labour market challenges

Childcare is a barrier to accessing education

This barrier is felt more deeply by parents of children with disabilities. Parents can access 20 hours of free childcare, but this doesn’t recognise the additional supports and costs associated with caring for children with disabilities.

Overcoming upfront cost of living barriers

Access to labour market opportunities requires overcoming upfront cost of living barriers (e.g. transport, childcare), however, increasing living costs are outstripping the disability allowance. The disability allowance itself is means tested and our stakeholders tell us that in practice this means most applicants ultimately receive $5-7 per week.

Removing the discriminatory minimum wage exception

Removing the discriminatory minimum wage exception is necessary, but there might be unintended consequences which need to be addressed upfront. The community are wary that employers will be less incentivized to employ their children or whānau with disabilities. There is a need for the labour market to proactively address this and ensure that employers are supported through the replacement mechanism (Wage Supplement) to employ and train tāngata whaikaha.

Access to adequate, mana enhancing, and cost-effective transport

Access to adequate, mana enhancing, and cost-effective transport will significantly improve labour mobility for Tāngata Whaikaha. Many Tāngata Whaikaha rely on public transport as their only means to access work and training, however, public transport in Tāmaki Makaurau is frequently prone to disruptions and cancelled services. A Tāngata Whaikaha stakeholder shared how a frequently cancelled bus service, along with the long travel time aggravated pain from a disability condition, which led her to moving her class to be extramural. This resulted in losing her public transport discount due to the system recognising she was no longer full time, causing a massive increase to transport costs.

Regional Workforce Plan (RWP) actions

The 2022 RWP identified 4 actions related to Tāngata Whaikaha:

  • Support the establishment of employment working groups to help address specific needs for different disabilities
  • Promote support for young people with disabilities so that rangatahi receive the same opportunities as other Aotearoa-New Zealanders
  • Influence the education sector by raising awareness of critical levers in order to increase access
  • Support the Working Matters Disability Employment Action Plan

Our focus for the next 2 months

TM RSLG will be attending the Disability Employers Network 2023 Disability Inclusive Pathways conference in August to gather more insights from Tāngata Whaikaha on ways that we can support and empower disabled and neurodiverse New Zealanders in their employment, and foster organisational cultures of true belonging and equity for disabled people.

2023 Disability Inclusive Pathways conference(external link) — Disability Employers Network

Prepared by the regionally led Tāmaki Makaurau Regional Skills Leadership Group.

For further information please contact tamakimakauraurslg@mbie.govt.nz.

Last updated: 15 August 2023