Pacific women struggle in NZ labour market
Pacific women in New Zealand are finding it tough to get ahead in the labour market.
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission says young Pacific women in New Zealand are struggling in the labour market.
Data added to the Commission's online tool which tracks equality at work, shows Pacific women are generally the lowest paid when qualifications and wages are compared between ethnicities.
It also says one in three are unemployed and despite the number of female NEETs, or people not in education, employment or training, declining since 2011, Pacific women are still disproportionately affected.
The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue, told Daniela Maoate-Cox more government support is needed.
Dr JACKIE BLUE: It's good to see the 15 to 19 group are on the lower side and the numbers are contained which means they are in education, training, or employment. What is really troubling is that when they move from that age group to the 20 to 24 age group, there's a huge jump, it triples. So we've got Pacific female [NEET] rates of 30 percent in the early 20s. Now what we think's happening here is that when you're aged 16 and 17, if you go and try to apply for some sort of benefit, that youth has a lot of wrap around services that they connect with, who mentor them, and get them into work, education or training, hence those rates are on the low side which is good to see. Once a person hits 18 they qualify for the unemployment benefit and they no longer qualify for those wrap-around services, so one of our recommendations is that the government looks at extending the criteria and the age group they can apply.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: Is that for men and women or just for most of the pacific women there?
JB: It's across the board actually. European men do well, they don't have such a mark increase form 15 to 19 to the 20 to 24 age group but it's very marked for Maori and Pacific, very marked.
DM-C: What's the issue if that support isn't put in place, what are the consequences of this gap?
JB: For starters, all the population experts say in the next few years we're going to need everyone who can work, work[ing]. We need to make sure everyone is working to their full potential and that includes all groups, all ethnicities, both genders. At the moment labour force participation rates are much lower for women and much lower for Pacific women. They're under-utilised and not reaching their full potential, so for a purely economic argument we need to make sure everyone who leaves school leaves with a qualification and gets into work, education and training.
DM-C: The data you've got says the number of female NEETS is at its lowest since 2011, have Maori and Pacific women always been this disproportionately affected and has it gone up or down since 2011 for Maori and Pacific women?
JB: Generally all female NEETS when you look across the board, it has trended down slightly, not hugely but there is a downward trend as opposed to the men which is slightly going up ward, so they're slightly converging. But when you look at Maori and Pacific, particularly Maori young NEETS are much higher than Pacific, they always have been much higher, this is not something new, but it's a continuing pattern which we absolutely need to address and we think what's going on is that they need to have those youth mentoring services extended into the 20 to 24 age group.
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