Works stats a concern for MP

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014

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Despite a drop in unemployment in the past year, Labour MP Andrew Little says there is more work to be done to secure Taranaki's future.

Although labour force statistics showed unemployment dropped from 5.5 per cent to 5.2 per cent in Taranaki, Little said there were other worrying statistics.

"The number of people actually employed in the Taranaki region has fallen by roughly 1100 in the year to June 2014," he said.

But New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young said this could be related to a slowdown in the cyclical engineering sector.

"We know the engineering sector is experiencing a slowdown at present, with 500 workers coming off the Methanex site in the last year," he said.

Little also pointed to a downturn in Taranaki's employment participation rate which fell to 69 per cent, from 69.3 per cent in March, and was the lowest since June 2012.

Equally disturbing is the number of 15 to 24 year olds not in employment, education or training (NEETS), Little said.

In Taranaki, NEETS statistics were at 11.7 per cent for the the age group, which is higher than the national figure of 11.1 per cent.

But Young pointed to programmes such as Taranaki Futures, aimed at addressing this.

"Taranaki Futures is about employers engaging with educators and students to make the transition from learning to earning as streamlined as possible," Young said.

National had also introduced the starting out wage and the 90-day trial to encourage businesses to give young people a go, he said.

According to Little, Labour would focus on increasing the diversity of employment options in the region and wanted to see all youth in education, training or employment.

"Labour's plan is to support the regions to sustain local employment by establishing a regional development contestable fund of $200 million," he said.

Labour also planned to commit an additional$183m nationwide for education and training to ensure every 15 to 19-year old was in work, education or training, Little said.

But Young argued this was Labour's attempt at catching up as there was already a comprehensive programme for young people.

"Under National, the 15 to 19 year old NEET rate was already down to an average of 8.2 per cent over the last year which is similar to before the Global Financial Crisis."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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