Buzz from the Beehive: a reminder of a new ministry (but what will it be called?) and data on the state subsidisation of jobs

It’s always a special week for this, that or something, and this week it’s New Zealand Sign Language Week (NZSL), a nationwide celebration of NZSL as an official language of New Zealand.

This year’s theme is ‘New Zealand Sign Language is essential’, intended to spotlight essential workers who are Deaf, the Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni said.

Her press statement reminds us that last year the Ardern Government announced it will be launching a new Ministry for Disabled People on July 1.

“While the official name has yet to be confirmed, I’m excited by the fact that this will be New Zealand’s first Ministry with an NZSL name,” she said.

What’s the betting the new name will not be the Ministry for Disabled People?

It has been a busy time for Sepuloni’s media team because she also issued a statement as Minister of Social Development and Employment (jointly with Education Minister Chris Hipkins) to advise that Budget 2022 will boost support for trades training programmes.  It will –

  • Extend the Apprenticeship Boost to the end of 2023, supporting 38,000 apprentices
  • Support 1600 Mana in Mahi places to help people into work
  • Continue funding the Māori Trades and Training Fund, building on the 17 established partnerships that are supporting more than 800 people

A third statement in Sepuloni’s name drew attention to data giving a raft of measures of the help provided by government wage subsidies in response to the Covid pandemic.

The Ministry of Social Development’s new report on who received the Wage Subsidy last year shows 47% of jobs in New Zealand protected by at least one of the 2021 wage subsidies.

Sepuloni said 69% of employed men and 54% of women were supported by a wage subsidy in 2020, which fell to 54% and 41% respectively in 2021.

Forty-five per cent of all “unique jobs” held by Māori (excluding sole traders) were supported by at least one of the 2021 wage subsidies, a similar rate to jobs held by NZ Europeans (45%) and Pacific People (43%).

The report explains that the gender mix appears to be a function of industries where males and females tend to be highly represented. For example, males made up the majority of people employed in some industries that had a high proportion of jobs supported such as construction and wholesale trade. Females made up the majority of people receiving support in some industries with very low proportions of jobs supported such as health care, social services, education, and training.

Oh – and on the matter of ethnicity, the report records something which Sepuloni did not mention in her statement:  a greater proportion of Asian employees continued to be supported in 2021 (57%) than other ethnic groups. This was down from 70% in 2020.

One reason is that Asian employees make up a much higher proportion (37%) of jobs supported in the accommodation and food services industry, where nearly all jobs were supported, than they do in any other industry.  Additionally, 64% of all Asian employees supported were in Auckland, the region with the highest proportion of all employees supported.

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