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Ministry of Social Development set to deliver a suite of employment service initiatives

Digby Werthmuller
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  Digby Werthmuller

The Ministry of Social Development is wanting to effectively engage with more Kiwis by delivering a suite of employment service initiatives during these unprecedented times.

Social Development Minister, Carmel Sepuloni, announced yesterday more resources and support to ensure as many Kiwis have work or are prepared for work.

“People want to stay in work – and the Government delivered a $10.4b wage subsidy to ensure employers and employees stay connected.

"But due to the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions, unemployment will rise before it improves."

The MSD is set to roll out a suite of employment service initiatives to help engage with more New Zealanders.

They include an online recruiting tool to connect employees with employers. The tool is now live and accessible.

An additional 35 new employment centres have also been set up under alert level 3 with online/phone services. Once at alert level 2, these centres will be accessible face-to-face.

Those directly impacted by COVID-19 and not on the main benefit will also have more access to employment services.

Benefit applicants needing re-engagement with the job market will have access to fast-tracking services as well. 

The Minister also announced work in partnership with the industry to offer a free online Community Health course, with NZQA Unit Standards.

Main benefits have seen a 90% weekly increase for Jobseeker Support. Over 7,694 more people now rely on a benefit, whilst 6,991 more people are applying for Jobseeker Support.

Sepuloni says the increase in benefit numbers was expected.

"It’s a global phenomenon. Countries that we compare ourselves to like the US, UK and Australia are experiencing dramatic increases in unemployment during COVID-19. We are not alone.” 

Policy Director/Economist for New Zealand Trade Union, Andrea Black, says an unemployment crisis is looming.

"It's heartening to see MSD putting forward this as a good start to match displaced workers with employment opportunities that currently exist.

"We do, however, see it as a first start in an active labour market policy to fully match and retrain displaced workers with other opportunities."