More Māori in jobs and more getting trained

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni says at times of crisis it is often Māori who suffer the most. She says that, because of that, she's committed to doing better by Māori. 

Yesterday Sepuloni announced $18.5 million for trade training. The funding will see more than 500 Māori job seekers into employment and training avenues. At an announcement at Whitireia yesterday the minister acknowledged the work of providers who have put in the work to change the national employment statistics. 

“One example is the Empowering Māori in Trades project being run by Mana Within in Auckland. This will see 50 participants from West and South Auckland get the chance to train for and be placed in construction sector jobs, where such skills are in short supply," Sepuloni says.

Training partnerships work

Unemployment has fallen and the minister says programmes such as Māori Trade Training and He Poutama Rangatahi are part of the reason.

"With unemployment falling to 4 per cent, we know the labour market has held up better than expected. This is a reflection of the suite of government measures and interventions  to secure our economic recovery from Covid-19.”

"The Māori Trades and Training Fund and He Poutama Rangatahi are only one part of our government’s solution to supporting people into employment, education and training,” Sepuloni said.

"They sit alongside other initiatives like Mana in Mahi, Jobs for Nature, and Apprenticeship Boost, and offer exciting opportunities through wraparound and bespoke support and pastoral care.

An iwi spokesperson told Te Ao Mārama that partnership with the minister has been key in making things work for those who want to get a job.

He Poutama Rangatahi is a government initiative that aims to support rangatahi (aged 15-24) who may be at risk of long-term unemployment and who aren't in education, employment or training. The initiative received an additional $5.6 million in yesterday's announcement. He Poutama Rangatahi also supports employers to help meet the needs of rangatahi.

Sepuloni said although the drop in unemployment was good there was still more work to do in getting the numbers of Māori down.

Promise seen in fall

There has been a 1% drop for Māori and, while that may seem small, the minister said that considering the forecasts of unemployment and the considerations of Covid-19 and its effects, there was promise in seeing a reduction. She said the data showed there were more Māori moving off the benefit into jobs. 

“There are now 63,000 more people in jobs since September 2020 and more people came off the benefit in the June quarter, with over 31,000 entering paid work. This shows that, while we’re on the right trajectory, we must keep going," she said.

Flexi wage is an initiative the minister is particularly proud of. The Work and Income website describes the initiative as helping "job seekers to get the skills they need to meet the requirements of a job. Employees can get training and ongoing support if needed, and employers can get a wage contribution to help them pay their employees. The job must continue after the Flexi-wage has finished." 

The initiative started in February this year and Māori make up 37% of those taking up those positions.

Māori also make up 37% of Mana in Mahi and overall around 3000 people have gone through the Mana in Mahi programme. 

"While we’re on a positive trajectory, this latest tranche of investment will help to fill the demand for skilled workers, improve employment, social and whānau outcomes, and contribute to the workforce that is helping build the government’s 18,000 Kainga Ora homes,” Sepuloni said.