Labour plans to boost schools' career advice

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 28/08/2014

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Labour wants to overhaul how careers advice is given in schools so that every student leaves high school with a plan.

During a visit to Palmerston North yesterday, Labour employment, skills and training spokesman Grant Robertson said the level of unemployment among youth was unacceptable.

There was no "silver bullet" to fix the problem, he said, but Labour had policies that would move towards a goal of zero youth unemployment. An estimated 24,000 people under 20 were unemployed, a result of failure by National to plan and develop the workforce.

Labour planned to widen the availability of career guidance so it was there for young people after they had left school.

A total of $17 million would be provided for more secondary school teachers and other staff to improve career guidance for youth.

Robertson said there was "some really good careers work going on" but also situations where school staff were only resourced to devote a few hours a week to careers advice.

Other schools had a focus on sending students to university when that was not the best option for many.

"The reality is only 30 per cent of school leavers go to university," Robertson said.

Apprenticeships were an option, but businesses were often reluctant to take them on, Robertson said.

He started his visit to Palmerston North with Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway yesterday at Harts Body Shop, a panelbeating business.

The company's 12 staff had been joined by two apprentices this week, said co-owner Jake Baker.

Baker said the company could take on apprentices more often if it was more affordable. It often was not until the third year of an apprenticeship that it was profitable to have an apprentice on board because of training costs and staff time dealing with them.

Robertson told Baker and fellow co-owner Steve Perrin about Labour's plan to pay businesses that take on new apprentices the equivalent of the unemployment benefit.

Baker said he liked the idea of the policy, provided the apprentices funded through the programme were still of a high enough skill level.

Robertson's visit to Palmerston North yesterday also included time at UCOL's trades training facility and a First Union stop work meeting.

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- Manawatu Standard

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