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Fostering pathways for Maori employment

The Government's Māori Employment Action Plan — Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori will fill a big void for Māori businesses wanting to build capacity, says Amotai-Supplier Diversity Aotearoa's general manager.

Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori was launched by the Minister of Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni and the Minister of Māori Development Willie Jackson on February 17.

It aims to address disparities, remove barriers, create opportunities and foster pathways for Māori to succeed in employment.

Actions in the plan fall into three key focus areas, or pou — People (Māori have the skills and knowledge to lead, and succeed at all stages of their careers), Workplaces (Māori thrive in workplaces that have good conditions and are free from discrimination) and Futures (iwi, hapū and Māori are leaders in future-focused and sustainable sectors).

Amotai-Supplier Diversity Aotearoa manukura (general manager) Ariana Paul said the plan would fill a big void for Māori businesses that were wanting to build capacity.

“For business owners who are wanting to build the capacity or capability within their organisation, the plan identifies a market for sectors in which employment is needed, so rangatahi Māori can plan their career in it.

“In the businesses where there isn't much employment scope for whānau — such as the construction space particularly, which traditionally has not been where kaimahi Māori were accepted — the plan really starts to put in place education and training which is needed for whānau Māori to get themselves into these positions.”

Ms Paul said Amotai had also begun to provide Māori and Pasifika trade training to rangatahi in partnership with the businesses registered with them, which was similar to the action plan's intent.

“More importantly, the plan gives importance to pastoral care for rangatahi who are joining the workforce.

“It is important that we identify and acknowledge our culture.

“The employers are also then challenged to say, ‘hey, look, if you are an employer of a lot of kaimahi Māori, is the culture of your organisation supportive of Māoritanga, kaupapa Māori values and te ao Māori?'

“This plan is letting us ask questions about cultural awareness and competency of employers to ensure our people who are trained in all these roles, when they walk into an organisation, those organisations are ready to receive them as whānau.”

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) regional commissioner Karen Bartlett said in Tairāwhiti, tikanga Māori factors were incorporated in everything the ministry did.

“Half or more of the people in our district are Māori, and it's important to us that we provide our services in the most respectful and culturally competent way possible for all our clients.

“MSD is a delivery agency for several of the Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori actions.

“We are working to showcase the success of Māori students, workers, employers and business owners.”

Ms Bartlett said the ministry was also partnering with Māori to promote employment opportunities through initiatives such as He Poutama Rangatahi and the Māori Trades Training Fund.

“The Māori Trades and Training Fund supports Māori entities by funding initiatives developed by Māori, for Māori, to deliver paid, employment-focused training and pathways to employment.

“Under a redeployment project following the first wave of Covid-19, a pastoral care component was established alongside iwi partner Tūranga Ararau. We developed a pastoral care model in partnership with them, that they delivered under manaaki support for newly redeployed whānau.

“Around 300 people were offered this service. Tūranga Ararau went on to ‘train the trainers' using this same model and the model has now been adopted across the region.”

Tūranga Ararau is the iwi tertiary education and employment services provider of Te Rūnanga o Tūranganui ā Kiwa.

Employment services manager Ingrid Brown said the Government's Māori Employment Action Plan — Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori is an “awesome extension of the existing mahi already happening in our rohe”.

“It supports kaupapa Māori and working kanohi ki te kanohi (face-to-face) with our whānau, hapū, iwi and wider hapori to improve employment and social outcomes for our people.”

Services provided by Tūranga Ararau include the Regional Apprenticeship Initiative — placing 25 Level 4-qualified apprentices in a variety of trades.

And through the Tairāwhiti — Mahi Tu Mahi Ora project and Māori Trade Training Funding, 50 trainees complete qualifications while they work.

He Poutama Rangatahi is another initiative they provide which builds the employability skills of rangatahi and works with them to seek and sustain work, or relevant training and education leading to employment.

“We provide intensive manaaki support (pastoral care) as well. It integrates kaitiakitanga, whanaungatanga and manaakitanga to support overall well-being of our people across all our programmes.

“To achieve this our dedicated kaimahi extend their support to engage with wider whānau, which is critical for sustainable employment and improved social outcomes for our people.”

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) general manager for employment, skills and immigration policy Ruth Isaac said the plan would remove barriers and create opportunities for Māori to improve their work and employment outcomes.

“It is a national plan, focused on actions that the Government can take across the education, training and employment services sector to address the known key issues which have an impact on Māori employment outcomes.

“What else do we need to do both in the short term (immediately), and in the medium and longer term, to make some changes, to build on the work which is already under way and to reflect the feedback which communities have given us?

“We know there is some progress yet to be made.”

Business New Zealand director of advocacy Catherine Beard said they welcomed the plan but “we need to look at whether this Government-led action plan is essential, or if existing programmes are already leading to the desired outcomes”.

“For example, labour market data from MBIE shows the proportion of Māori in skilled occupations has grown over the past three years.

“Businesses need a skilled workforce and Tairāwhiti has as many as a quarter of young people not in education or employment.

“It is important to tap into this potential to ensure companies get the skills they need, and the local community can thrive on benefits that come from sustainable employment.”

Trust Tairāwhiti chief executive Gavin Murphy said the trust was pleased to see the action plan come to fruition.

“It maps out a holistic, cross-agency approach to ensuring Māori have the knowledge to succeed in all stages of their careers, that they thrive in the workplaces and are free of discrimination.

“The plan aligns with the trust's existing workstreams around business support and workforce development but will also support us to bring more focus and consideration to equitable and fulfilling careers and businesses for Māori.

“One of the particular challenges we face in Tairāwhiti is we have a high number of NEETs, which is young people not in employment, education or training, and the plan has a range of short and long-term actions to address this.

“The vision of Te Mahere Whai Mahi Māori is to exercise rangatiratanga to create intergenerational wellbeing through work.

“The trust fully supports this kaupapa through He Rangitapu He Tohu Ora, our regional wellbeing framework.

“The CARE Regional Skills Leadership Group will be meeting in the next month and will look at the initial steps of rolling out this plan in Tairāwhiti.”

Plan Welcomed: Turanga Ararau employment services manager Ingrid Brown (centre) says the Government's Maori Employment Action Plan is an awesome extension of what has been happening already for kaimahi Maori and business owners in Tairawhiti. Pictured with her are (from left) Turanga Ararau regional apprentice lead Rocky Monika, Maori trades and training lead Becks Waihape, He Pou Rangatahi facilitator Maria Hawkins and employment support placement lead Luke Barbarich.Picture by Liam Clayton