Labour reveals youth unemployment plans

Last updated 19:10 04/08/2014

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Labour's youth unemployment policy specifically provides for Maori and Pasifika, as $183 million is pledged to get every person under 20 into work, training or education.

Deputy leader of the Labour Party Grant Robertson said the party was targeting the 24,000 people under 20 who were unemployed because it was at that age young people made critical decisions which affected their futures.

Those most in need of a meaningful alternative to a life on the benefit would be targeted for intensive support, Robertson said.

"This includes Kick Start Apprenticeships which will provide employers who take on unemployed 18 and 19-year-olds permanently with a $9,100 subsidy - the equivalent of the dole."

There would be 12,000 apprenticeship places over the four years, with the dole-equivalent subsidy paid to the employer who would pay the young person a salary.

An additional 2,000 Maori Trades Training places would be funded to address disproportionately high unemployment rates among young Maori, Robertson said.

Positions in key sectors such as fishing and forestry would be established through tertiary providers, iwi and industry training organisations.

Labour would also establish 1,500 training places for some of the 40 per cent of 15 to 19 year old Pasifika people who were unemployed.

The National Party's boot camps would be disestablished in favour of the Conservation Corps with 1,500 places in a full-time 20-week course which combined conservation work with vocational work and confidence building.

Career guidance would also be provided after young people left school, moved into work and were out in the community, Robertson said.

"Labour will also reform careers advice to ensure young New Zealanders are helped as they train and move into work. At present this advice ends at school and the quality is highly variable.

"We will disestablish Careers New Zealand and have a different body to oversee our strategy with input from schools, employers, tertiary training providers and careers experts.

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

Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said Labour's proposal to require all people under 20 to be in work, education or training, without any supporting information on the quality and likely employment outcomes of the education and training or how it would be costed, delivered and paid for, was "not convincing".  

Labour's youth employment policy had some sensible ideas, but the proposed dole-equivalent subsidy paid to employers of 18 or 19-year-olds contradicted other employment policies, he said.

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Policies of an increased minimum wage, no starting out wage and no trial periods meant it was less likely employers would find the "kick start" proposal workable, O'Reilly said.

But the proposed personalised education plan for every secondary student was "sensible", and providing workplace learning for students while keeping them in school was a good idea.

"Making this a reality would require a substantial strengthening of careers guidance and stronger accountability by school Boards for their career guidance responsibilities," O'Reilly said.

- Stuff

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