Good skills for good jobs
Good jobs encompass job quality, job quantity and greater inclusiveness, but also transitions in and out of the workforce and building for the future.
The concept of good jobs draws on the OECD definition found in ‘Good jobs for all in a changing world of work’. This section outlines the approach used by the RSLG to highlight the need for developing good jobs and the adequate support that is needed to allow people to find a good skills match for their next job, which also pays well and is able to manage the increasing cost of living in Tāmaki Makaurau.
This includes not only delivery of effective employment services, but how these services can be tailored to the needs of the person, their family circumstances, and the labour market opportunities in the area where they live. Others face multiple disadvantages, such as health conditions and disabilities, or lack of qualifications, functional illiteracy (including digital and technological literacy), experience and skills. The system must recognise these disadvantages and provide the appropriate types of employment solutions.
Good skills start with the foundational skills like basic literacy and numeracy. It also extends to access to an affordable education as a child or young adult, and access to adult literacy, migrant ESOL, drivers’ licensing and digital skills education, alongside second-chance education, access to apprenticeships and access to retraining opportunities, if displaced. Aotearoa New Zealand has had an underperforming labour market for some years which has been pointed out in OECD reports and in Whakamana Tāngata, the 2019 report of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) which, together with the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE), led to the establishment of Regional Skills Leadership Groups across the motu.
Whakamana Tāngata – Restoring Dignity to Social Security in New Zealand(external link) — Welfare Expert Advisory Group - Kia Piki Ake
The RSLGs were established in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the interim RSLGs were entirely COVID-19 focussed. The pandemic has brought many new labour market issues and challenges to the fore and some labour market issues before the pandemic have now become secondary. But above all, the RSLG remains clear that “work is part of everyone’s daily life and crucial to a person’s dignity, well-being and development as a human being” (International Labour Organisation, 2016. A vision statement by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO).
In the time the RSLG has had to produce its first (2022) Regional Workforce Plan, it has had to concentrate on describing the labour market as it currently stands, with a deep dive into workforce issues in the 3 key areas of health, construction, and hospitality. It has not had the time to develop any comprehensive policies or programmes to deal with overall labour market issues in the region. These policies and plans will be developed in future Regional Workforce Plans.
The policies and programmes that can provide the bridge between the supply and demand side of the labour market are often called Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMPs). It is these programmes, when undertaken well, that can provide the magic of ensuring workers have access to ‘good work’ and employers have access to skilled and well-trained workers. It is also these programmes that can address poor employment outcomes for different groups within the labour market.
Following the Whakamana Tāngata report, MBIE is undertaking a review into the current ALMPs regimes that exist in Aotearoa New Zealand. This review will be invaluable for the future work of the RSLG. The Ministry of Social Development is creating a more responsive approach to displaced workers and the Government, together with union and employer organisations, is developing a social insurance scheme for those losing their jobs through redundancy or health issues. While future Regional Workforce Plans will develop a more comprehensive menu of ALMPs that could be used in the region, previous chapters have highlighted some areas that demand immediate action.