De Wet van der Westhuizen

De Wet van der Westhuizen

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Business
Bachelor of Business (Honours)
Bachelor of Business in Economics

De Wet Van Der Westhuizen wants to improve life for young New Zealanders who earn the minimum wage.

“My research empirically examines the effects of the minimum wage (and sub-minimum wage) on employment, education and industry training, with a particular focus on youth,” says De Wet who is currently completing his PhD in economics.

Big data
Accurate data is key for De Wet’s work, and he has access to some pretty impressive information sets.

“What’s exciting about my research is that I’m able to tap into the Integrated Data Infrastructure from Statistics NZ. The IDI enables me to use data from the IRD, Ministry of Education and MSD to accurately identify who is impacted by the minimum wage, something I would be unable to do with much precision if I solely relied on survey data.

“Being able to do this accurately means I can make minimum wage policy recommendations – something that has tangible implications for the New Zealand labour market.”

The impact of research
De Wet has been involved in a number of commissioned research projects during his time at AUT, and has seen how the university’s involvement with industry can improve the lives of New Zealanders.

“The projects I worked on generally looked at building profiles of vulnerable groups in the labour market. We worked with the Blind Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation and the Auckland Co-Design Lab.

“The key learning for me was how the work that AUT engages in at an industry level has the potential to impact real people in positive ways.”

Expect the unexpected
De Wet had spent many years in corporate jobs before starting his doctoral degree at AUT, and says that it’s okay to not have a career plan mapped out.

“I spent a number of years in the corporate environment, trying many different roles, before realising how much I enjoy doing research. I understand the value I can add to businesses, community groups and people.

“My advice is to be comfortable in navigating uncertainty and to try things before settling on what feels right.”