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Robots are taking Maori jobs

Robots are taking Maori jobs: New Zealand Maori Council releases ambitious plan to secure Maori jobs in the economy

ā mua mahi; Future of Work

NZ Maori Council releases new jobs plan focused on the digital economy, insulating Maori impacted by automation and reforms of the vocational and technical education sector

The New Zealand Maori Council has released its ambitious plan for both the future of the technical and vocational education sector and Maori employment in the 21st century. Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of Council and Chair of the National Maori Authority has said that its time to take reform seriously but also not to miss the opportunity to empower Maori to move from the low wage growth side of the economy into high yield, high growth sectors such as digital, online and technology focused sectors:

“We must prepare for the wholesale extinction of many roles Maori traditionally hold en-masse in the economy – the truth is automation is here and yes robots are taking many jobs.” Tukaki said

“For many decades the largest per head of population consumer of the technical and vocational education sector has been Maori. From the birth of the old Maori Affairs Trade Trainee program through to the demand placed on regions when it comes to trades across the blue collar, industrial and primary industries sectors, Maori have been dominant.”

“That said; Maori, in the main, have also been largely seen as part of the low wage side of the economy and have not always been given the opportunity (or invested into) to make the transition into skills and trades that are part of the high growth end of the economy where wages are higher. While trades skills have been in heavy demand many of these jobs face extinction due to the evolution of the economy and rapid innovation in technology and telecommunications; in other words, over the next decade, a great many traditional role types would have disappeared in favor of automation.” Tukaki said

“Over many decades employment and training strategies developed by Government have mostly focused on an immediate problem related to high rates of unemployment or sector demand. In fact, there has never been a much longer-term plan or strategy that has been developed around what the shape and future of work for Maori needs to look like and what needs to be invested in to achieve success. This document seeks to identify a series of ways and means to both begin the discussion, provide insights and ideas as well as move towards what it looks like to have a sustainable longer-term plan in place. In any event our goal should be a further lowering of the unemployment rates when it comes to Maori, future proofing the economy and driving up the rates of participation in the medium to highly skilled ends of the jobs market – thereby lifting wage growth and increasing rates of financial independence. Council very much sees both the reforms of the vocational and technical education as being aligned with the future of Maori employment and jobs” Tukaki said

Key Employment Priority Areas:

  1. Priority: “Creating more opportunities for Maori in the digital, information technology and telecommunications sectors”

  2. Priority Two: “From the Marae to the Boardroom – developing a new generation of Maori leaders”

  3. Priority Three: “Steps to freedom – using employment to reduce reoffending”

  4. Priority: “Supporting our mums into work”

  5. Priority: “Maori in their middle to latter years” A tailored national workforce development plan

Key Training and Education Reforms:

The future of Wananga

“We also need to have a discussion about Wananga being able to operate on the same level playing field as Universities – including accessing to a better funding model”

Wananga have become an important part of the Maori education experience and future. But, they currently do not operate on the same level playing field of the traditional university or polytechnic sector and, in order to future proof more Maori skills a great investment is required.

A new funding model

“The EFTS model of funding is more like a race to the bottom”

The current funding model is not fit for purpose for today New Zealand and does not always encourage quality standards, focus or delivery. The model of EFTS should be replaced and reflect more the demand of a particular skill, driving quality economies of scale and a greater yield in terms of tangible outcomes.

Maori Trade Trainees Version 2.0

“We want to see a revitalized Maori Trade Trainee Apprenticeship program”

Reform of the older Maori Trade Trainee Program to encompass digital skills and learning, online trades such as coding, social media and communications that do not require degree level qualifications and in line with future economic growth. This should be focused around the need for more relevant and present skills to meet the demand of both the Maori economy from a business and social perspective. Top of mind should also be the development of skills related to digital media, broadcasting and being able to take advantage of new infrastructure developments using spectrum.

Securing the current workforce

“We are concerned for the future of a mainly Maori workforce in the regions when it comes to consolidation of the current model.”

Should consolidation occur a workforce plan built around transition needs to be put in place and the impact should be managed to ensure that the broader issue of unemployment as a result does not occur in large numbers. In reverse – thereby adversely impacting regional rates of unemployment. Importantly is uncertainty in the sector in terms of employment stability and security.

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