New research into Maori grads may be key to Maori recruitment

When the Matariki stars appear around the shortest day of the year, Maori tradition says it predicts the harvest season – the brighter the stars, the more successful the crop. A long-running survey from Otago University may also predict – in this case, the success of Maori graduates as they move through the workforce.

More and more, boards and senior management around the globe are putting diversity and inclusion on the agenda, to better reflect our society and customer base. To recruit more Maori graduates to the corporate world, businesses need to understand where any career roadblocks lie for Maori, and that’s where University of Otago’s GLSNZ comes in.

The GLSNZ is a survey tracking how factors like employment, lifestyle, health, and social contribution can influence the outcome of almost 9000 graduates from across New Zealand, up to 10 years down the track – looking at gender, age and ethnicity. The researchers say it’s the most comprehensive study of a country’s university graduates the world has ever seen.

At this week’s Global Women diversity and inclusion MeetUp in Auckland, researcher Dr Moana Theodore presented her team’s findings for the Maori cohort, alongside Dr Mele Taumoepeau and Karen Tustin.

We’ve listed five points below which may be useful to keep in mind when recruiting Maori graduates.

Five findings for Maori graduates

  1. Maori are more likely to be the first university attendee in their family than non-Maori (48.4 percent of Maori graduates vs 36 percent for non-Maori). The researchers say this may have meant less access to role models for guidance on how to approach university stress, subject choice and employment search.
  2. Maori are more likely to be a parent while studying: 32.9 percent rather than 20.1 percent in non-Maori. This may create pressure on time and finances, and means they may end up with a different CV than those who have had time and money to take low-paid/volunteer internships. Maori also have a higher proportion of older students aged 40-49 years than non-Maori.
  3. The biggest fields of study among Maori are humanities/arts/social sciences and education/training, with a much higher proportion of Maori heading into these than in the non-Maori student population. This suggests there’s a large number of graduates that could be recruited from these fields, instead of recruiting just those with a business degree.
  4. The top intended field of employment among Maori students are education/training, healthcare/medical, and government – and these are more popular among Maori than they are among non-Maori students.
  5. The reasons for attending university are similar across all ethnic groups – such as personal development, career, obtaining employment, and the benefits of undertaking further study. Likewise the values graduates look for in a career were similar across the board, for example, financial security and job satisfaction.

Biggest surprises

Theodore says for her the most surprising finding to come out of the survey so far was the similarities between the groups: Maori, Pasifika, European and others looked for similar qualities in careers, and each saw similar benefits in tertiary education.

“This was surprising because of the differences in character we saw – for example, first in family, older, being parents,” she says.

She says another surprising insight was that the Maori science and engineering graduates are less likely to be parents than Maori graduates in other fields, even when corrected for age and gender. She says that this could be because of the time pressures associated with these courses, especially labs.

Useful for recruiters

Theodore hopes the study will provide helpful insights for employers when recruiting Maori graduates and later when bringing them up the career ladder.

“We’re hoping businesses and institutes will think about the needs of Maori in terms of these differences such as being parents or being older,” says Theodore.

“It’s also important to see what society will look like in 2025 – especially since the Maori population is projected to grow faster than the European population.”

The research team will explore these findings and more in “Māori university graduates: Indigenous participation in higher education”, soon to be published in Higher Education Research and Development – we’ll sure to post a link on this blog when it’s available.

Global Women is currently working on a Maori Pathways to Corporate Leadership programme. Watch this space.