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  • Ethan Rogacion

Impact Of Public Service Job Cuts Felt By Would-Be Public Servants


This time of year is typically the peak recruitment season for summer internships and graduate roles, especially for those wanting to apply for roles in the public service. However, following the Government’s programme of job cuts to a number of ministries and other public agencies, this may prove more challenging for anyone looking to do so this year.

Students currently applying for internships in the public sector may have noticed that multiple agencies have also rolled back programmes for university students, with some programmes disappearing entirely from websites. MBIE, for example, typically runs graduate and summer internship programmes - however, the Ministry’s website currently only hosts information about applications from last year’s intake.

Jennifer Nathan, MBIE’s Chief People Officer, told Salient that the Ministry is currently undergoing active “formal change consultation” with regard to cuts. Nathan did not provide further comment about what the impact this would have on the future of these programmes, because consultation is active. 

MBIE confirmed that “All external recruitment has been paused and this includes graduate recruitment,” adding it “will continue to consider the context for our [programmes] to ensure they align with any changes in our organisational environment.”

The Government Legal Network—which runs clerkships and graduate programmes for law students on behalf of Crown Law—have also paused its recruitment for this year. A spokesperson told Salient that this is in order for Crown Law to “consider our ongoing work programme and priorities which will include delivery of the Summer Clerk Programme in the future.” 

While this is happening in the context of broad cuts across the public sector, GLN also told Salient that there has been “no specific instruction has been given [by the Attorney-General] regarding the GLN Summer Clerk and graduate programme”.

In an apparent coincidence (albeit a poorly timed one), this is not the only instance of a Ministry pausing internships unrelated to its ongoing cuts. The Ministry of Education which, as reported by RNZ has so far cut 565 roles, is temporarily pausing its internship recruitment, but has said that this is “not linked to the change process”.

Nicola Willis, Minister for the Public Service, has not been advised of the impact that cuts will have on people seeking public service internships and graduate programmes. “Our expectation is that every Government agency will ensure they are structured to support effective delivery of frontline public services to New Zealanders,” she said.

Manager of Wellington Careers and Employment, Andrew Tui, told Salient, “Our Careers and Employment team have had some students mention they are concerned about the impact of the public service job cuts on future employment opportunities, but the team is not aware of any students struggling to find public service opportunities at the moment.”

Tui’s gave this advice for students thinking of joining the public service during a period of historic job cuts: “We want our students to be best prepared for future employment—this includes having the ability to tailor applications, an ability to connect with employers and networks, the confidence to use LinkedIn, and knowing how to research industries of interest.” Just know that even for the most confident LinkedIn users among us, having a hard time in the job market might not be all down to your CV.


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