Labour and Immigration Research Centre Research Strategy
We will be a top policy and research shop that provides credible and authoritative advice and information on the labour market and its contribution to the economy.
For New Zealand to lift its economic growth and productivity, and meet its social and economic aspirations, it needs a skilled and capable workforce in productive, healthy and safe workplaces. Knowledge and insight into the dynamics of the labour market allows us to target the services we provide and influence the work of other agencies in order to support the Government and how we shape our country’s future.
With a focus on workplaces, employment, and immigration, the Department of Labour (the Department) – and specifically the Policy and Research Group – is uniquely positioned to provide an overarching labour market perspective. The Labour and Immigration Research Centre (the Research Centre) provides the research capability of the Department. We lead the Government’s research and evaluation activities in the areas of:
- employment and skills
- workplace relations
- occupational health and safety
- immigration and settlement, and
- accident compensation policy.
The Research Centre will enhance knowledge and understanding of these systems through a comprehensive work programme of research and evaluation that both meets the service delivery needs of the Department and provides the information, analysis and advice required by the Ministers of Labour, Employment, Immigration, and ACC. Our broad portfolio requires us to work across the Government’s broader economic and social agendas. It is critical that we connect with other researchers, government agencies, employers, education providers and other interested individuals, in New Zealand and abroad, to enhance and support our cross-cutting research programme.
Developing the work programme and priorities
We must be pragmatic and practical in everything we do, including our strategically-focused work. The current fiscal environment means that it is more important than ever to tightly define the objectives of each piece of work, as well as articulate the contribution that it will make to the evidence base and how it will be deployed.
Ultimately, the Research Centre will be New Zealand’s authoritative source of expertise on labour market and immigration issues. We will be an invaluable resource for the Department, engaged in all parts of policy development and implementation.
The Research Centre will:
- Provide labour market information to foster a high-performing labour market. Our research and analysis will form the basis to deliver a range of robust labour market information and analysis products to support the development of a high-performing labour market. This programme relies on strategic partnership with Statistics New Zealand to utilise their data to provide unique insights and advice on the functioning of the labour market, thereby meeting the information needs of our stakeholders. Our programmes include:
- the Labour Market Monitoring Programme with flagship products such as Jobs Online, the Lead Employment Indicator, Household Labour Force Survey Quarterly Reports, and Labour Market Scorecard
- the Survey of Working Life
- the Survey of Family, Income and Employment Dynamics (SoFIE)
- the linking of integrated Longitudinal Employment and Education Data (iLEED) with administrative migration data. This programme also serves to promote iLEED as the hub of integrated data across New Zealand Government.
- Inform all stages of policy development. We will ensure that we have the appropriate evidence base to ask the right questions, consider options, and assess and test options through policy and programme evaluation. Policy evaluation will include:
- evaluating opening the ACC work account to choice
- outcomes evaluation of legislative changes to the Employment Relations Act and Holidays Act
- an annual minimum wage review.
- Support service delivery functions. We need to be confident that the Department’s service delivery functions are operating effectively. This includes monitoring and measurement, evaluation and review of existing practices, and projects to meet immediate information needs. Specific examples are:
- supporting the Labour Group’s Harm Reduction initiatives
- conducting customer satisfaction measurement
- administering Immigration’s Essential Skills in Demand Lists.
- Support our commitment to international treaties and partnerships. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) annual reporting obligations and member-country projects, including contributing to the annual International Migration Outlook
- Metropolis International
- International Labour Organisation (ILO)
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
- Five Country Conference.
- Development of a medium- to long-term research work programme. Please see below for details of this programme.
- Address strategic priorities of the Policy and Research Group. There are five strategic priorities for Policy and Research Group. See the following section for further information.
Strategic priorities of the Policy and Research Group
In everything we do, the Research Centre supports the Policy and Research Group’s five strategic priorities. These are:
- Christchurch Earthquake response
- Labour productivity
- Labour participation
- Health and Safety and Accident Compensation interface
- Regulatory reform agenda.
Christchurch Earthquake Response
This programme supports the Department’s work arising from the Canterbury Earthquake of 22 February 2011. It supports the Department’s interface with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Christchurch Development Corporation, Canterbury Employment and Skills Board, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Christchurch Earthquake and other agencies. The Department is leading and supporting the labour market analysis knowledge stream for the Canterbury Employment and Skills Board. In considering how to respond to the labour market and skills challenges, the Department will use the Board as a hub to oversee the dynamics of the Canterbury labour market to support joint development of local labour market responses. Our analysis will provide information on areas such as:
- estimates of job growth across key occupations
- estimates of jobs created directly and indirectly (as a result of economic stimulus associated with the reconstruction effort)
- the labour market impacts on other industries likely to be affected by earthquake (examples include retail, hospitality, and tourism) and the potential for skills shortages to arise in other regions due to the increase in demand for workers in the Canterbury construction sector.
The Research Centre will also analyse the role of immigration to meet those labour market and skills challenges posed by the Canterbury Earthquake.
The Research Centre will support work across the Policy and Research Group to develop a framework for:
- understanding the drivers of labour productivity
- bringing together the various work underway on labour productivity
- identifying what is known or unknown about what drives New Zealand’s labour productivity record
- identifying the success or limitations of previous initiatives to improve New Zealand’s labour productivity, both inside and outside of the Department
- identifying new opportunities for improving labour productivity that the Government could adopt.
The purpose of our Labour Productivity programme is to identify the successes and failures of earlier workplace productivity initiatives, which will be substantiated by a fresh look at the theoretical and empirical evidence base. We aim to identify new approaches that can be recommended to the Government to improve New Zealand’s overall labour productivity performance, including looking at demand and supply of skills, and the role of immigration.
The Department needs to provide ongoing strategic and consistent advice on labour participation issues. The Labour Participation programme will contribute to this capability through:
- developing a thorough understanding of the factors, and their relative importance, behind non-participation or under-participation of certain groups
- identifying critical gaps in knowledge about why some groups are under-participating in the labour market
- drawing together previous New Zealand investigations of the labour market experiences of those who are disadvantaged and/or marginally attached to the labour market
- analysing and evaluating the key labour market interventions used to improve participation rates and improve the sustainability of employment. Identifying the role of skills development and improving the effectiveness of current policies will be a key focus in this area.
Health and Safety and Accident Compensation Interface
The Department has responsibility for advice and regulation of health and safety in the workplace and the governance of New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme. To maximise labour market participation, the Department has the primary responsibilities to: (i) decrease the incidence of workplace injuries; and (ii) ensure rehabilitation that enables workers to return to work after an accident occurs. This programme will:
- examine and identify cost-effective interventions (what works) at a broad level (this includes information, regulatory, and market-based instruments)
- propose priorities for reducing the workforce burden of disease/disability
- identify what role the Department has either directly or in influencing other sectors.
Medium- to Long-Term Research Work Programme
The Research Centre will investigate the implications of three global and national trends on the future labour market landscape, enabling the Department to identify what levers are required now in order to be ready for this changing environment. The three global and national trends are globalisation, demographic change and migration, and New Zealand’s industrial structure.
A broader understanding of these long-term trends and the resulting implications for policy and regulatory levers will enable the Department to:
Regulation Reform Agenda
The Government’s statement on regulation – ‘better regulation, less regulation’ (August 2009) – contains two key commitments: (i) to introduce new regulation only when the Government is satisfied that it is required, reasonable and robust; and (ii) to review existing regulation to identify and remove requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective and excessively costly. The Department has a wide range of legislative provisions across different portfolios that, while distinct, are inter-related. A collaborative, whole-of-Department approach to regulatory reform is needed.
How we work
We analyse, advise, engage, and explore.
- Analyse. We use a range of analytical models and frameworks that draw on robust evidence to critically define issues and assess options.
- Advise. We form a view, relevant to the Government’s objectives, on how to make a difference.
- Engage. We work collaboratively with others to achieve results and to ensure awareness is established with relevant stakeholders.
- Explore. We take a broad, deep, and proactive view while considering external influences to stay ahead of the game.
As a centre of excellence, we are committed to leading by example and developing capability. In all of our endeavours we value:
- fit-for-purpose research and analysis
- continuous improvement
- strong leadership
- proactive engagement with stakeholders and clients
- use of evidence to inform public debate.
The realisation of fit-for-purpose research and analysis is supported through our quality assurance framework. This framework ensures that any qualitative and quantitative research commissioned meets specific objectives, uses the most efficient and effective research design, and delivers meaningful results that can be implemented through policy and operations. All research is peer reviewed, and complies with our internal processes and standards, as well as with Government requirements. We strive for continuous improvement.
Our commitment to strong leadership, proactive engagement with stakeholders and clients, and use of evidence to inform public debate is realised in various ways. The Research Centre and its staff are members of appropriate professional bodies and associations, as well as other more informal networks to promote ongoing professional development, including the Association of Social Science Research (ASSR), Australasian Evaluation Society (AES), Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA), and Government Economic Network (GEN). Additionally, we present papers at national and international conferences – both to validate the findings and to discuss them in open fora.
Who we influence
Fundamentally our research and evaluation influences advice, the development of policy and interventions, and their subsequent implementation. Our research and information products are also accessed by a broad audience. In each case we will ensure that the information we produce is disseminated in a way that is timely, relevant and cost-effective. Ultimately, the relevance and utility of our work is dependent on the information reaching the right people at the right time, and in a way that meets their needs.
Some of our labour market information products are reported quarterly, providing an important source of intelligence to a wide range of stakeholders. Other aspects of our work have a longer-term focus, cumulating in the publication of research reports. Multi-year projects are likely to involve a range of products aimed at different audiences.
Our customers are the employers and individuals in New Zealand, as well as potential migrants and expatriate Kiwis. Our customers use our information products and services to inform their decisions about the labour market and employment.
Our external stakeholders include specific government agencies, business and professional networks, non-government organisations, and researchers. Internal stakeholders include the Department’s service delivery functions, Executive Group, and our own Policy and Research Group.
We use a variety of media to reach our customers and stakeholders.
The Research Centre has a cross-sectoral research advisory group to provide input and advice on our strategic direction, large scale research programme, and medium- to long-term research priorities. The advisory group includes representatives from Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury, Reserve Bank, Statistics New Zealand, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and University of Waikato, as well as representatives from the Department’s service delivery and Policy and Research groups.
How we measure our success
We know that we are successful when our research findings inform and influence policy and decision making. Our quality processes promote robust research and responsible practices, and recognise that strong relationships between policy and research must exist if each function is to be successful.
At the Research Centre we celebrate success, but always strive for improvement. Select indicators of success are shown in the following table.
How do we hold ourselves to account?
Our Chief Executive is supported
Responses from the Chief Executive’s Annual Feedback Survey provide evidence that we add increasing value in delivering the Department’s outcomes and fulfilling the Department’s vision.
Government trusts the information that we supply
In each quarter we will engage Ministers and their delegates to gain feedback about their level of trust in our research. We will achieve a benchmark of ‘good’ performance in annual Ministerial Performance Feedback Assessments.
‘Business as usual’ requirements are met
We will provide the outputs and activities as specified in the Department’s Statement of Intent.
Stakeholders value our work
We will conduct annual interviews with internal and external stakeholders to review the ways in which we can meet baseline needs and increase the value of our work.
Staff are engaged and feel supported
We strive to continually improve upon baseline measures in annual engagement surveys.
 The Five Country Conference is a group made up of immigration officials from Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and New Zealand, which engages in ongoing strategic initiatives on immigration and border security. New Zealand has been a member since 2009.