Update from the Defence Employer Support Council

Line of Defence Magazine - Spring 2020

Defence Employer Support Council
DESC supports cadet force officers and reservists who are also in civilian employment. Image: NZDF.

At the NZDIA July Member Meeting, Defence Employer Support Council’s COL Trevor Walker provided an update on DESC’s activities and what lies ahead for the annual Minister’s Awards for Excellence.

The Defence Employer Support Council (DESC) advocates to employers on behalf of defence and its main role is to support cadet force officers and reservists who are also in civilian employment. According to DESC’s Trevor Walker, DESC is also looking at how to support NZDF personnel who are transitioning out of the New Zealand Defence Force into to civilian employment.

Another area is youth programs. “One of those is the Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) courses that Defence is responsible for running on behalf of the MSD” involving training 1,600 unemployed youth per year and supporting their entry into the workforce.

A significant challenge of supporting people who are transitioning out of the Defence Force to find employment is that it requires data. “Who are those people? Who do they work for? And what are the jobs out there in New Zealand and wider?

“At the moment we’re quite data poor,” observed COL Walker. “And that’s one of the pieces of work that we need to commission in the future to make sure we actually understand who our Cadet Forces officers are, who they work for and how you can help us better, and supporting those personnel who give up their time to either serve in the Reserve Forces or go out there and look after our youth in the Cadet Forces.”

Another area of recent DESC involvement has been in relation to the Volunteers Employment Protection Act 1973 (VEPA). It needs a bit of an update. It’s a actual employment act owned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), but we’re looking at how we develop that and bring it into the modern day so it more or better suits looking after our reserve personnel, our volunteers. 

Another area in which DESC has been involved is the Kawenata. The DESC had a part to play, said COL Walker, “and it has now gone back to the minister who will release some further information on it in the future.”

Minister’s Awards for Excellence

Last year for the first time, the Defence Employment Support Council and the Defence Industry Advisory Council (DIAC) combined their annual Minister’s Awards that had in previous years been organised separately. 

“It was in my mind, and certainly in the mind of the DESC, a very clumsily named 2019 Defence Industry Advisory Council and Defence Employer Support Council Awards,” he said. “The DESC has set itself the challenge of renaming it into something more snappy and easily understood by the people we’re awarding.” [read Minister’s Speech to the 2019 Defence Industry Advisory Council and Defence Employer Support Council Awards]. 

The awards are currently scheduled for 24 November next year in or around Wellington. COL Walker is hoping that the DESC part of it will be a day of events, including a Defence-based show-and-tell or display-type activity, followed by an award ceremony in the evening at Parliament.

COL Walker stated that DESC is looking to work more closely with the NZDIA and at facing its data challenges so that the organisation is better able to “support the people we’re advocating for”. 

Comment below to have your say on this article.

If you have a news story or would like to pitch an article, get in touch at editor@defsec.net.nz

Sign up to DEFSEC e-Newsletters.