Posts Tagged “Maori workers”
Young Pacific Islanders need a confidence boost at work and to set career goals for themselves. Their bosses also need to do more to help them settle into the workplace and engage with managers.
These are just some of the findings of a survey carried out by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs research group for the EEO Trust on Pacific Islanders at work. The group interviewed 20 young Pacific Islanders and six managers who had Pacific Island staff.
The 52-page “Specifically Pacific” report says bosses who recognise the family and cultural values of young Pacific Islanders tend to connect with them more and, in turn, those people often become more loyal to the company.
EEO Trust chief executive Dr Philippa Reed says the research was carried out because employers are keen to help young Pacific employees reach their full potential.
“Specifically Pacific is something of a first,” she says. “Until this research was carried out, there was very little information about Pacific young people and their engagement at work.”
Authors of the report say it is important that employers understand the factors influencing the workplace engagement of young Pacific people.
According to the report, one disconnect between managers and Pacific youth is a cultural preference – Pacific Islanders typically put their family before their careers.
The report shows that Pacific youth overall see prosperity in terms of families and relationships rather than material well-being. They tend not to have clear economic or career goals, the report notes. It recommends managers mentor and develop the leadership potential of Pacific Islanders to help improve their employment and economic prospects.
“The majority of young Pacific people were born in New Zealand and may be negotiating conflicts between their cultural and family traditions and those of Pakeha New Zealand. These conflicts may manifest themselves in the workplace,” says the report.
“Young people in general start out with relatively high levels of engagement in their paid work, but this soon declines. They often feel alienated, feel they do not fit into workplaces, are disengaged from traditional systems and structures, and often feel their ideas are undervalued or ignored.
“They need to feel that what they are doing is meaningful, and be able to see how it connects to the bigger picture of the organisation and wider society.”
The report says key influences at work include management and supervisory styles, opportunities for advancement, training and development, being aware of and accommodating the wider life needs of workers, and consistency between the job description and induction process and the reality of the job.
“Those who are working fulltime may be less skilled and have fewer career opportunities,” say the report’s authors.
The report also says Maori and Pacific workers of all ages have low education, low skills, high levels of unemployment and are likely to become parents much earlier in life than Pakeha.
It says young people and Pacific people are worst hit when it comes to economic downturns due to a combination of low skills, qualifications and experience, and a high level of reliance on manufacturing work.
Managers interviewed as part of the survey say Pacific youth tend to lack self-confidence and the ability to promote themselves. This lack of confidence is holding them back.
“From the managers’ interviews, it is clear that they see themselves as having to motivate their workers by boosting their [staff’s] confidence,” say the report’s authors. “In return, the managers found that their employees’ productivity and attitude improved greatly.”
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs chief executive Dr Colin Tukuitonga says the fast-growing Pacific population means an increasing Pacific labour force, and this will eventually impact on a greater number of employers.
“Predictions are that in 2026, one in eight 15 to 39-year-olds will be of Pacific descent,” says Tukuitonga. “While some of them may work for Pacific employers, others will not.”
The report concludes that employers need to recognise the importance of Pacific and family values.
“Many young Pacific workers have roles and responsibilities outside the workplace that are considered as important as work,” it says. “Balancing their work and non-work commitments is critical for Pacific youth.”
Findings of the survey also suggest that the enablers and barriers to workplace engagement for young Pacific workers are multi-layered, involving a mix of individual, family, cultural and organisational elements.
It says Pacific and non-Pacific managers feel they understand their young Pacific workers and are aware of the key issues impacting on workplace engagement.
Download the full report here.
Specifically Pacific – key findings
* Employers can draw on Pacific values by getting to know young Pacific workers’ families and involving them in resolving work issues when needed.
* Organisations can use Pacific cultural metaphors to incorporate Pacific identities and values at work.
* Managers need to recognise the potential of young Pacific workers and actively motivate them, as they often lack self-confidence and belief in their abilities.
* Managers need to develop pathways within their organisations that match the aspirations and competencies of young Pacific workers.
* Formal Pacific networks provide opportunities for senior Pacific managers and supervisors to mentor young Pacific workers.
* Nearly half of Pacific people aged 15-24 were not in the labour force in 2007 (49 per cent), compared with 27 per cent of European and 43 per cent of Maori.
* Young Pacific and Maori New Zealanders in the 15-24 age group are twice as likely to be parents as other young New Zealanders. This accounts for a third of those not in the labour force for Pacific people aged 20-24.
Source / EEO Trust
Pacific youngsters – work and income
* Pacific workers are over-represented in low-paid, semi-skilled or unskilled occupations, as reflected in their average weekly income. In 2008, it was $482. This compares with $573 for Maori and $741 for Pakeha.
* The wage gap between Pacific and non-Pacific remains even when they are the same age and have the same qualifications.
* In the current economic downturn, Pacific people experienced the greatest increase in unemployment of any ethnic group in the year March 2008 to March 2009. During this period, they experienced a 61 per cent increase in numbers and a 4.4 percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate. This compares with a 27 per cent and 0.8 percentage-point increase for Pakeha (Household Labour Force Survey, March 2009).
Source / EEO Trust, Specifically Pacific report.
The Council of Trade Unions Runanga says employment law changes coming into force today will impact particularly heavily on Maori workers.
The law changes include the extension of the 90 day “fire at will” trial period, restricting workers’ access to their unions and weakening rules on employers’ requirements to follow proper processes when dismissing workers.
CTU Vice President Maori Syd Keepa said the changes will particularly affect people at the margins of the workforce, such as in low paid, casual and low skilled jobs, where there are many Maori workers.
“What Maori workers want now is a decent plan to create jobs and lift incomes, not policies to make it easier for employers to sack them,” Syd Keepa, CTU Vice President Maori said.
Syd Keepa said Maori unemployment is at 15.5 percent, and he doesn’t accept arguments that the laws were about helping firms to create jobs.
“A job exists because there is work to be done, not because the person is easier to fire,” he said.
“Workers are feeling the pinch right now with rising costs in petrol, food and other items. These changes are a kick in the teeth for all workers, and Maori in particular,” he said.