Tapping the talent in young Pacific workers

Press Release – Equal Employment Opportunities Trust

Young Pacific employees have told researchers what motivates them to do their best at work. Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust research found that bosses who recognise family and cultural values, foster positive relationships between managers …Tapping the talent in young Pacific workers

Young Pacific employees have told researchers what motivates them to do their best at work.

Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust research found that bosses who recognise family and cultural values, foster positive relationships between managers and staff, create Pacific role-models, and offer opportunities for career development help build engagement amongst young Pacific people. Engaged employees are more committed and connected to their work.

“It’s important how the bosses feel about me,” says one of the employees interviewed for the research, a 22-year-old Samoan working for a bank. “The more you feel valued, the more you want to come to work. You want to do what you have to do.”

The insights of the young workers and managers have been published in a new research report Specifically Pacific: Engaging Young Pacific Workers. The EEO Trust commissioned the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs research group to undertake the study to better understand what drives young Pacific employees in the workplace, their career expectations and aspirations, and what helps and hinders their participation and success.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Dr Philippa Reed says the research arose from employer interest in making more of the considerable talents among young Pacific people.

“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. We have listened carefully and have formulated some ideas on what employers can do to to make the most of this talent.”

Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs Chief Executive Dr Colin Tukuitonga says the fast-growing Pacific population means an increasing Pacific labour force.

“Predictions are that in 2026, one in eight 15 to 39-year-olds will be of Pacific descent. While some of them may work for Pacific employers, others will not. This research will help ensure that those employers are equipped to make the most of their Pacific staff, help young people coming into the workforce and enhance productivity.”

The project involved face-to-face, in-depth interviews with 20 young employees of Pacific heritage and six managers of young Pacific staff. All those interviewed worked for EEO Trust member organisations in finance, retail, manufacturing, health, transport and media.

The report’s recommendations include:

• Organisations drawing on Pacific values by getting to know young Pacific workers’ families and involving them in resolving any work issues

• Recognising the potential of young Pacific workers and actively motivating them through approaches such as clearly-defined roles and expectations, on-the-job training, opportunities to continue education, two-way communication and opportunities to grow mutual trust and respect.

• Developing career pathways that match young Pacific workers’ aspirations and competencies.

• Creating formal Pacific networks to provide opportunities for senior Pacific managers to mentor young people.

What do we know about young Pacific people and work?

• The Pacific population is youthful, with a median age of 21 years compared with 36 years for all New Zealand. (Statistics New Zealand)

• Of the 15 to 29-year-old Pacific people living in New Zealand, 67% were born here. Of under-15 Pacific people living in New Zealand, 87% were born here. (SNZ)

• It is estimated that by 2026, Pacific people will make up 12% of New Zealand’s workforce aged under 40, and maybe as many as 30% of the new entrants to Auckland’s workforce. (SNZ, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs)

• Pacific peoples are highly urbanised, with 97% living in urban areas in 2006 (66% living in Auckland). (SNZ)

• Young Pacific people’s educational qualifications are improving – just 26% of 15 to 29-year-olds have no qualification – but they lag behind all other New Zealanders in their age group except Māori. (SNZ)

• Pacific people aged 15 to 29 work most commonly as labourers, sales workers, clerical and administrative workers, trades people or technicians. (SNZ)

About the EEO Trust: www.eeotrust.org.nz

The Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust provides employers with resources, information and tools on the business and organisational benefits of New Zealand’s increasingly diverse workforce.

Every year, the showcase EEO Trust Work & Life Awards celebrate forward-thinking employers who bring creativity and commitment to meeting today’s employment challenges and in preparing for those of tomorrow.

The EEO Trust is funded by member-organisation donations and Government contributions. It is governed by a Board of Trustees.

ENDS

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