$10.80 'starting-out' rate polarises

JARED SMITH
Last updated 05:00 12/10/2012
liam stand
JARED SMITH
Hawera's Liam Buckland and Keani Broughton do not like the idea of the Government's starting-out wage.

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Paying teenagers as little as $10.80 an hour with a "starting-out wage" has polarised the opinions of Taranaki youth and the people who employ them.

The Government's new youth wage will replace the current new entrants and training wage and is set at 80 per cent of the $13.50 adult minimum wage.

It will apply for the first six months of employment and starts on April 1 next year.

Hawera teenagers Liam Buckland, 17 and Keani Broughton, 14, said they preferred the old wage levels.

"More money, that's always better," said Liam.

"I'm already an electrician apprentice and I get paid more than that. It's only a few dollars more but it adds up."

Keani, a Hawera High School student, said he was confident he could get a part-time job and would want to start off above that minimum.

However Buddy Sharpe, 16, said it "doesn't fuss me".

A correspondence student, he was interested in landscaping for a future job and if someone wanted to pay him $10 to get started, that was fine.

New Plymouth Pak 'n Save owner Peter Melody said it was a win-win for young employees and employers.

"It gives people who have never worked before the opportunity to get their foot in the door.

"When you're running a commercial business you have to look at costs and do things the most cost-effective way," Mr Melody said.

"If you're employing at a higher rate, you may as well employ an adult on a minimum rate and then the kids don't get chances."

Hawera Paper Plus owner Janice McCallum said the wage is too low and six months too long.

"These young ones that start working, a lot of them actually leave home at a similar time, so some of them have fairly similar expenses to any other adult."

Her business had more success getting good employees through the three-month trial.

"We've had a few staff not get through it, to be honest.

"Perhaps a 16 to 17-year-old working for that small amount is probably not going to be on their best performance anyway.

"Especially the unemployable that sometimes we see coming through - why would they get off their butts for $10?"

Campbell Mason said the starting-wage was a "brilliant" idea because he could offer training on the job while off-setting the costs.

A self-made 22-year-old who created his own Hawera cafe business, he said the biggest challenge starting out was finding someone willing to hire him with no experience.

"It's a safe option for an employer who can take someone on and if they prove their worth they can up their wage.

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"It's just good business.

"If they prove they're worth more than $10 per hour I'll happily pay them to keep them as a worker."

- Taranaki Daily News

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