A SUPER CITY NEEDS A SUPER JOBS PLAN – HON. JOHN BANKS
This is my first column and I believe it is important I focus on the issue affecting a large number of people in this great city – Unemployment and Job Creation.
I know it’s tough out there for many of you on the job front. For the past 3 months we’ve been on a listening tour around Greater Auckland and every day someone raises this issue with me.
It is very concerning to see 2500 people standing outside a supermarket in South Auckland queuing for one of the 150 jobs on offer. These are all people who want to work so they can provide for their families and themselves. That’s great, but the fact most walked away empty handed and disheartened, isn’t.
We need a Jobs Strategy, a plan and I have one. The Mayor of the new Greater Auckland Council must work hard to help ambitious folk like those who queued for hours in hope. People with aspiration should be treated with respect and assisted in every way possible. As one city we will have real clout, we will have real opportunity to create jobs.
You may well think, ‘that’s easy to say Banksie when you’re already in work’. I know politicians say this everyday, but I mean it. I personally know what it is like to be out of work and out of luck but I learnt how to change that.
It is about ‘Job Creation’. So how do we do that? We believe it’s about attracting new business to Auckland and creating confidence in this great city from Wellsford to Waiuku. It’s also about making sure those businesses that are here, stay put.
Last week we launched the development of the Wynyard Quarter on the waterfront with the help of ASB, a long serving Auckland institution. The construction of this major investment alone will create hundreds of jobs and once the new office buildings open, so do hundreds more job opportunities. That’s great.
Recently we took a walk around the Fujitsu Customer Service Centre in Newmarket, an employer of about 450 Kiwis, mostly in Auckland. As a large multi-national this company could quite easily have packed up its call centre and left for Asia like others did (Telecom) when it got tough. They didn’t. In the last year or so they have created 100 new jobs, with a plan to employ another 90 this year. Fantastic! It is success stories like this that we need more of. I’m happy to say the Auckland City Council worked closely with Fujitsu to keep their Head Office here, but more can be done.
You know, it saddens me that unemployment among Maori and Pacific Islanders is at 15%. One in three young Maori are without a job. That’s not on. So what’s the answer? Well, central Government has a big part to play here but so will the new Auckland Council.
I believe it lies in education and training. It’s a pity that many of those unemployed Maori and Pacific Islanders also have little education, some don’t want it but I think many just can’t get it.
The Counties Manukau District Health Board came to see me not long ago. It wants to set up a training centre at Middlemore Hospital so it can provide young Maori and Pacific Islanders from South Auckland with the skills to work in the health industry. It can’t, bureaucracy in Wellington won’t allow it. As a Greater Auckland we will be able to push back with strength against this type of red tape. I am committed to doing this.
Education means economic development and that means jobs. We need to bring together our polytechs, universities, government agencies and major private sector employers so they can grow. I plan to set up a team in the new Mayoral Office to do this.
Recently I meet the team from The Professional Bar and Restaurant School who said to me, “Banksie, there are plenty of jobs in the hospitality industry but red tape from Wellington means we can’t train enough young people to fill them”. Why?
Friends, I don’t claim to have all the solutions to unemployment, no one can but it will take real ‘leadership and experience’ to tackle this. Don’t be fooled by talk that we are out of the bad economic times. We aren’t, but a new united Auckland will give us the potential to speak with a voice like we never have before. We must use this to help those like the great 2500 Aucklanders who queued for hours outside a supermarket, in the end for nothing.
Until next time. Good luck and good health. Stay safe, Banksie.