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Economist advocates unleashing hidden female labour pool

Wednesday 10th August 2011 3 Comments

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Goldman Sachs has identified women as a "hidden labour pool" that could boost economic output by 10 percent and solve an expected labour shortage as Christchurch is rebuilt.

The report, Closing the Gender Gap -- Plenty of Potential Economic Upside, argues that New Zealand is only three quarters of the way to unlocking the hidden value of its female workforce.

"Our estimates show that closing the gap in male and female employment rates in New Zealand would boost the level of gross domestic product by 10 percent," said Philip Borkin, New Zealand economist for Goldman Sachs.

The rebuilding of Christchurch would stretch New Zealand's available resources and labour shortages were likely, Borkin said.

One of New Zealand's largest construction companies had told Goldman Sachs that the current pool of 77,000 trades people nationwide needed to more than double to rebuild Christchurch.

A labour shortage could increase inflation and force the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to raise interest rates.

"We see no reason why more females could not be employed in the construction sector and play a role in the rebuilding of Canterbury," the report said.

Goldman Sachs canvassed the idea of incentives and also said that some allowances needed to be made so that labour could train and be more mobile.

He said that while New Zealand had a better track record than many countries in respect of human rights and gender equality, there was room for improvement.

"We believe a proactive approach by Government will help to close some of these disparities and will come with considerable economic benefits,” he said.

The report argues for incentives for females with high levels of education to seek careers outside of the traditional areas of education, health and support services. It also argues for the broadening of the modern apprenticeship scheme and measure to address the issues of the cost of childcare and high marginal tax rates for some females on welfare.

On the issue of the lower pay for women, the report says that "the recent talk of making employees pay levels available to other colleagues is one way we feel would start to bring this issue to the fore".

Encouraging firms, where possible, to introduce flexible work arrangements for staff was also suggested in the report.

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Comments from our readers

On 10 August 2011 at 8:11 pm Don said:
Yes! By all means lets get these good keen wimmen down to Chizchiz to lay bricks and nail nogs. They could attend to all them glass ceilings at the same time!
On 11 August 2011 at 1:56 pm Savvy Citizen said:
Yes! Great idea - China has done it so what are we waiting for???? Get rid of outdated ideas/ beliefs .. whether gender, race or culture .. if you want to survive as an Economy!
On 17 August 2011 at 3:12 am Jens said:
Yes, and let's implement a one child per family approach (those means-tested who can afford more excluded, those who cannot support one by application) while investigating social acceptance of polygamy to reduce social services and child support, relax immigration further until we reach 10 million and form a viable domestic economy, introduce tax benefits for a predicted boom in childcare business services (and funding for child psychiatic research alongside dementia). Growth must be sustained!
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