19 Feb 2009

Focus on Pacific jobs in New Zealand off to a good start - Minister

7:28 pm on 19 February 2009

New Zealand's Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs says a Pacific jobs fono in Wellington today made a good start in considering the impact of the recession on Pacific people and how best to minimise the damage.

The fono brought together Pacific businesspeople, employers, economists, academics and others to look at how best to protect jobs, create new ones and provide training opportunities for those who are laid off.

Its suggestions will feed into a national jobs summit in Auckland later this month.

The Ministry's chief executive, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, says it's very clear there should be a focus on young and low-skilled Pacific workers who are already being laid off.

He says these are the people who will be an increasingly important part of the future workforce.

Dr Tukuitonga says it is vital these people regard unemployment as a temporary setback, an opportunity to train and upskill rather than the beginning of a career on welfare.

Meanwhile New Zealand Pacific MPs in the Opposition Labour Party, Sua William Sio and Carmel Sepuloni say the summit failed Pacific people because key Pacific representatives were excluded and because of the decision to host the meeting in Wellington when most Pacific people live in Auckland.

The exclusion included the Labour MPs, Pacific union representatives, Pacific local body representatives and others not invited or unable to travel to meet the costs of travelling to Wellington.