Friday, August 10, 2018

Jobs scheme: just another episode in a long-running saga

Hold on to your hats. Another new scheme has just been announced by the Labour government:

Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work will pay a wage subsidy to employers willing to hire a person receiving a main income support benefit, and offer that person an industry training qualification.
I'm underwhelmed.

This latest 'initiative' by Labour, specifically Andrew Little, is a big yawn. The country has' been there, done that' so many times before. Think 'Compass',  'Community Wage' and 'Jobs Jolt' operating respectively at the middle, end of the nineties and mid-2000s.

In fact we are doing it right now. It's called Flexi-wage subsidy:
If you're interested in hiring one of our candidates, but they need support to gain the required skills for the job, we may be able to help with a subsidy for things like training or mentoring.
Get Jacinda, stealing the limelight yet again,  in the fluro vest no less,  making another grand gesture to her demographic.

You can fool some of the people some of the time....

Thursday, August 09, 2018


What is this word now oft repeated to mean something of which I am unaware.  I could google it but some responses from people 'like me' (indulge me) would indicate that they at least get it, and I'm off the pace.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Drug-testing beneficiaries - suspend the sanctioning policy?

The NZ Herald reports:
Last year, there were 31,791 referrals for drug testable positions nationwide and just 55 sanctions for failing a drug test, according to Ministry of Social Development (MSD) figures.
 Seem low to you? No mention of sanctions for refusing to take a drug test.

The article highlights some reasons why the number could be 'artificially' low including people switching to drugs that are non-detectable, or many people's main employability problem being alcohol which won't necessarily lead to failing a drug test.

From the file of ‘unintended consequences’, a 2016 government report released under the OIA noted that, “There has also been anecdotal evidence that increased testing has led to employees and job seekers using drugs that have a shorter detection time but are more harmful.” 

But consider this:
Beneficiaries diagnosed with drug dependency would not be sanctioned under the policy, but would receive the support they needed to deal with their addiction, [MSD representative] said.
There are thousands of beneficiaries who will never be put forward for jobs that require drug-testing because they have a primary incapacity of substance abuse.

Here's the interesting thing though. They have decreased in numbers. The source for this data is my own and one other OIA request.

The number rose through Labour's last term (while unemployment fell) and has dropped under National.

A 'tougher' but more practical approach may be the driver of this fall. (Or the problem could still be there and hidden under other incapacity categories eg psychological and psychiatric conditions which risen 11% since June 2008.)

But that very few people receiving a benefit fail a drugs test is not reason to do away with the sanctions. Nobody should be able to render themselves unable to work and expect to live off taxpayer funding.