The Job Tour: How the wheels turn in the capital

By Andrew Hughes and Olivia Wix

Andrew Hughes and Olivia Wix's nationwide tour of the job market continues in the capital.

Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast.
Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast.

After a day of meeting the people who work in, or are trying to crack into the film industry we decided to spend our last day in Wellington talking to a successful young musician and two of the most powerful women in the city - Mayor Kerry Prendergast and Minister of Social Development and Employment Paula Bennett.

Earlier in the morning we met up with Myele Manzanza, a 21-year-old local musician who's a drummer for a number of bands including Electric Wire Hustle and Olmecha Supreme. He says networking accounts for around 60 per cent of your job as a musician. You need to connect with other musicians in order to get gigs, and make money, but he adds that you must maintain a good standard of musicianship also.

He says he has been very fortunate (he recently returned from Europe) to be able to make a living off of music, although he says his weekly income varies. He says taking care of his money is key in this business, and that many musicians have other jobs also - he eventually would like to get into teaching.

What was interesting was his take on studying music. He says that while studying can help a musician hone his skills, some of the best studio and live musicians in the country(he used the example of drummer Riki Gooch) have no tertiary background and are simply gifted. He also noted that it is very important for students at music school to remember their individuality and not become stiff with their style.

His advice to music students is not to treat the school like it is the industry, as it is a whole lot different, and in the real world, there is more than just your musicianship required in order to become successful.

We met Kerry Prendergast in the morning (in her incredibly plush office) and had a chat about the importance of young people in the city.

It seems we hit the nail on the head with the creative industries- these make up 36 per cent of the jobs in Wellington. But she does acknowledge that this sector has been hit hard in the recession.

As fewer films are being made in the city, and as its been a time for post production for films like The Avatar and The Lovely Bones, there have been less jobs within the city for young people. She says that Wellington in unique in that it has a tertiary institute for almost all careers you'd want to get into - including Drama School, Film School, Victoria University, Massey University and a variety of polytechs.

She says that while Wellington is traditionally associated with politics, there are also many other jobs in the area. She says that the hospitality sector has an abundance of jobs going at any one time and that the IT industry is growing by the day.

She says Wellington is unique in that you can be skilled and qualified or have no skills or education and easily find work in the capital- mainly through events, retail and hospitality.

In the afternoon we went to Parliament to talk to Paula Bennett. We talked about high youth unemployment (it sits at 22 per cent) and what they're doing about it. She says that the problem is that in the recession employers often overlook youth because they'd rather hire someone with more skills and experience for a little more money.

In August, the government launched the Jobs Op and Community Max schemes, which have seen a further 4000 youth get jobs.

The scheme is about making younger people look more attractive to businesses and giving them six months to prove themselves. The business gets financial support for the employee and even if it doesn't turn into a job the youth come out of it with a job to put on their CV, proven work skills and a reference.

Ms Bennett says that better training is needed for entry level jobs in the hospitality, retail and tourism industries with a focus on teaching Kiwi's how to engage in conversation, how to sell, how to use the various technology and the importance of coming across as though you are there to assist people.

She says that work is a vital part of a good life, and there's no way she's letting young people stay on the dole.

"You may not get your dream job, but you need to prove that you have other attributes. Take the risks, show up early and convince someone you can give the job 100 per cent. Suck it up, and do what you need to do to make a reasonable living and get ahead in life."

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