Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the record number of New Zealanders now in employment, which has reached 2.5 million for the first time.
The latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) shows a 0.8 per cent increase in employment over the past three months, equating to 19,000 additional people now in employment.
137,000 jobs have been created in the past 12 months, while the labour force participation rate has increased 0.4 per cent, to an all-time high of 70.5 per cent. The unemployment rate, meantime has increased to 5.2 per cent.
Wages also grew by 1.6 per cent over the year, taking the average annual wage to $58,700.
“The Government’s comprehensive economic plan is working for families, with record job creation and higher wages to help people get ahead,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“Unprecedented levels of participation and robust job growth show that the New Zealand economy is continuing to grow.”
In the construction, retail, trade and accommodation sectors, there was strong growth with 10,900, and 30,300 more people employed in the past year, respectively.
Other highlights this quarter include:
- The number of women in full-time employment rose 2.7 per cent.
- The number of people not in the labour force reduced by 12,000.
- With working-age population growth of 0.5 per cent, it is the fifth consecutive quarter where employment growth has exceeded population growth.
The rate of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), has increased to 13.6 per cent, although Statistics New Zealand urges caution as this may reflect the recent redevelopment of the HLFS survey.
“The Government is continuing to focus on delivering more jobs, higher wages, and more opportunities for Kiwis and their families,” Mr Goldsmith says.
Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell have today opened a fifth round of the Te Pūnaha Hihiko - Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund in which up to $4 million is available for successful projects.
“We are seeking proposals that strengthen connections between Māori and the science and innovation system. This fund will continue to foster a greater understanding of how science and technology can contribute to the aspirations of Māori organisations, for the benefit of New Zealand,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“The government is investing in projects that contribute to the development of skilled people and organisations undertaking research that support the four themes of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Vision Mātauranga policy.”
The Vision Mātauranga policy aims to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people. It focuses on four themes:
- indigenous innovation – contributing to economic growth through distinctive science and innovation
- taiao/environment – achieving environmental sustainability through iwi and hapū relationships with land and sea
- hauora/health – improving health and social wellbeing
- mātauranga – exploring indigenous knowledge and science and innovation.
“We know that Māori success is New Zealand’s success and we have already seen innovative results that have wide reaching benefits from the programmes funded to date. Unlocking the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people will have major economic, social and environmental benefits for New Zealand.” Mr Flavell says.
A total of $3.97 million was invested in 33 new programmes through the fund in 2016, a substantial investment that recognises the value of Māori participation in science and innovation.
“The Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund is an important initiative in building deep-seated engagement on science and innovation with Māori that can include traditional research organisations, CRIs, government agencies, communities and individuals. I look forward to hearing about the successful projects in due course,” says Mr Goldsmith.
Applications are due to MBIE by 5 April 2017. Successful applicants will be announced in May 2017.
For more information, including the Call for Proposals, see: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/science-innovation/investment-funding/current-funding/2017-vmcf-investment-round/
Education Minister Hekia Parata and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith have congratulated the 17 New Zealanders who have received New Year Honours for services to education.
“There are passionate and committed people working hard every day to help ensure that young New Zealanders get a world-class education and it’s great to see some of the very best being honoured,” says Ms Parata.
Those named include Georgina Kingi, QSO, who received the highest honour – Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
She has been principal of St Joseph’s Māori Girls College since 1987, having taught at the school since 1969. She has also been a member of the Education Expert Panel for the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.
“Dame Georgina has worked tirelessly in education for over 40 years and has played a pivotal role in the education of generations of young Māori women. This honour is truly deserved,” says Ms Parata.
Mr Goldsmith says the 17 honours are a reflection of the extremely high value New Zealand places on education.
“These 17 New Zealanders are fine examples of the dedicated people working in education to make a real and positive difference for young people.
“I congratulate them for the valuable contribution they’ve made to education in New Zealand and internationally,” says Mr Goldsmith.
The 17 recipients are:
- Miss Georgina Kingi, QSO, for services to Maori and education
- Mrs Beverly Rae Duff, for services to women and education
- Mr John Ioane Fiso, for services to sport, education and the Pacific community
- Professor Robert Hans George Jahnke, for services to Maori art and education
- Dr David Ross Mitchell, for services to education
- Ms Jacqueline Lindsay (Jacquie) Bay, for services to science and education
- Mr Ross Brown, for services to education
- Ms Jillian Corkin, for services to education
- Mr Derek Sinclair Firth, for services to arbitration and education
- Mrs Madeline Gunn, for services to education
- Mr John Heyes, for services to education
- Mrs Robyn Hickman, for services to education
- Mrs Nahusita Selupe, for services to education and Māori and Pacific communities
- Mrs Alison Thelma Wilkie, for services to health and education
- Mr Graham Leslie, for services to education
- Ms Barbara Stewart, for services to youth and education
- Mrs Herita Rita (Rita) Toko, for services to Maori and education
Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced initial funding of up to $3 million to develop and enhance GeoNet’s natural hazards monitoring capability and response service.
The funding will support GeoNet - New Zealand’s official geological hazard information service - to further develop New Zealand’s hazards monitoring tools.
While GeoNet’s current monitoring and response service includes a network of automated sensors and on-call seismologists to assess data, a number of opportunities to strengthen the current response system were identified in the wake of the November 14 earthquakes.
Strengthening New Zealand’s monitoring capability could include improvements to existing infrastructure as well as research into improved sensors, models and approaches.
“It’s important we have the ability to get warnings about potential emergencies out to New Zealanders as quickly as possible, to enable them to take appropriate action,” Mr Brownlee says.
“GeoNet plays a key role advising on the need for warnings about natural emergencies such as tsunami, and a well-funded GeoNet service has long been a priority for the government.
“Work is already underway, led by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, on scoping a 24/7 warning centre that would involve multiple agencies monitoring a range of hazards.
“This work will continue but, in the meantime, enhancing GeoNet’s capacity to provide a timely response is an important priority.”
Mr Goldsmith says GeoNet issued a response within 3 minutes of the Kaikoura earthquake.
“It immediately stood up a response team that delivered advice not only to officials but to the New Zealand public through its website, app and social media channels.
“Early, accurate information is important for public safety and emergency response, so the government is investing to strengthen GeoNet’s ability to provide immediate and comprehensive information on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.”
Initial funding has been appropriated from MBIE’s Strategic Science Investment Fund.
Both Ministers say while the government is committed to improving our capability to deliver better warnings, New Zealanders need to remember that for events such as earthquake-generated tsunami, there may be no time to issue warnings.
People near the coast should familiarise themselves with maps provided by local councils showing areas at risk of tsunami. They should also heed natural warnings - if you feel a long or strong quake, head immediately inland or to higher ground.
Reflecting on 2016
We look around the world and see so much uncertainty and gathering signs of stress in many places. As a small country we are subject to the consequences of these global forces, over which we have no control. The recent earthquakes, also, have reminded us of our geological vulnerabilities.
And yet, New Zealand continues to go from strength to strength. Our economy is strong, one of the fastest growing amongst developed countries. Unemployment has fallen below 5 per cent, and we continue to enjoy a job boom – with 144,000 jobs created in the past year alone. Since 2008 inflation-adjusted wage growth in New Zealand has been the fourth fastest amongst developed countries. And we’ve managed to do this while returning the Government’s books back to surplus.
You can understand why New Zealand has been ranked first in the world in the 2016 Legatum Institute Global Prosperity Index. That’s something to celebrate.
New Zealand’s success is a result of the hard work, ingenuity, pragmatism and goodwill of Kiwis. The Government helps by providing a strong, stable and financially sustainable political environment, combined with steady reform and investment to improve our competitiveness and productivity. Meantime, growth and good management of government spending gives us choices.
We can continue to deliver better quality health and education services to New Zealanders. We have extending free GP visits to under -13s and have spent a massive $5 billion on upgrading school buildings since 2008.
We can continue to care for the most vulnerable in society in order to maintain our social cohesion, as we did in last year’s budget when we delivered the first real increase in benefits for families with children since 1972, and an additional investment in emergency housing places in this year’s budget.
And we can continue making massive investment in transport infrastructure in Auckland. This helps keep the city moving and ultimately helps ease the pressures on housing affordability that are intimately bound with transport.
As we look forward to the summer and Christmas to spending time with friends and family, I wish you and your families all the best.
Reflecting on the end of 2016!
December proved to be more dramatic than any of us expected. After eight years of great service as our Prime Minister, John Key has stood down. Those of us who have watched him closely know he was right when he said he’d given it his all, and we understood when he said he had nothing left in the tank. During his time in office he has demonstrated what good government looks like.
The striking thing has been how quickly and professionally the National caucus has recovered its poise after the shock. Bill English and Paula Bennett have swiftly secured the support of their caucus peers, and we can have every confidence that National will continue to provide the strong, stable and financially sustainable government we have come to expect, alongside some shifts in emphasis such as we would expect from a refreshed leadership line-up.
It is a great thrill for me to be invited to join Bill English’s first Cabinet as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Minister of Science and Innovation and Minister for Regulatory Reform. I’m looking forward to long summer days reading all about international trends in universities, the economics of the student loan scheme and the details of the more than $1 billion we spend annually on science.
After two years as Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, I’m leaving to my successor many projects that will take years to complete. The most important, in the long term, is the effort to improve financial capability amongst New Zealanders. Within Cabinet I’ll take a keen interest in the Government’s progress on all of them.
Hearing your views and ensuring they are heard in Wellington
As a Member of Parliament based in the Epsom electorate, I continue to find new ways to engage with the community. Regular surveys provide important feedback on issues of concern. I also regularly invite a cross section of residents to join me for morning teas or to informal events, such as ‘Pizza and Politics’ at our Great South Road offices, to hear what’s on people’s mind.
We had around 35 people at a recent Pizza and Politics evening, where the hottest topic was the impact of immigration on housing. Half the audience were long-term residents, mainly concerned about the pace of change in their neighbourhoods, and the other half were recent migrants who expressed a diversity of views on the subject. We all shared a concern about housing affordability.
I outlined the Government initiatives to free up the supply of housing – the fundamental driver of high prices, alongside historically low interest rates. These include the Special Housing Areas to fast-track development, the work with the council to get through a Unitary Plan which substantially frees up supply, and the $1 billion government fund to help speed up the provision of infrastructure, such as water and sewage. And we are making progress. Building consents data published by Statistics NZ in November indicate that New Zealand is in the middle of the longest and strongest building boom on record.
I also outlined the measures to reduce the pressure from speculators and strong net migration. These include the bright line test to tax investment properties bought and sold within two years, the requirements for New Zealand bank accounts and IRD numbers, and the reduction in net migration numbers alongside a freeze on the parents category.
The sentiment of the meeting, and it’s widely shared in feedback to me generally, is an acceptance of the complexity of the issues but a desire for us to consider going further. In every discussion about these topics I have in Wellington, I make sure that the sentiment is clearly heard.Read more