What do you think of the Government's plan to introduce a $10.80 youth wage?
Waikato employers have welcomed Government plans to introduce a $10.80 youth wage saying it will make the unemployable more employable.
However, the Service and Food Workers Union has rubbished claims that it will create more jobs and it has been met with apprehension by those it directly affects.
The Government yesterday announced plans to introduce the non-compulsory teenage wage for 16- to 19-years-olds in April next year.
And it said setting it at $10.80, 80 per cent of the $13.50 minium wage, would make 40,000 eligible for work.
Sir William Gallagher, of Gallagher Animal Management which employs 1000 at its Hamilton headquarters, welcomed Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson's announcement yesterday.
He said there had been a high unemployment rate among teenagers since the abolition of a starting-out rate some years ago.
"Doing away with the youth rate just raised youth unemployment. They just pushed them out of the workforce. Businesses are not charities and have to make a profit. The minimum wage made youth unemployable," Sir William said.
"I think this is a great thing, it will make them more employable."
Employing youth on the starting out rate was like an internship, Sir William said.
Glenn Miller, owner of Mill Street Pak 'n Save in Hamilton, also welcomed the plan.
He didn't think it would create more jobs, but said it would encourage employers to give inexperienced, would-be employees a go.
"I think the starting out rate will be perfect for trying out young people, and if they are any good we would want to keep them."
Sandra Perry, chief executive of Waikato Chamber of Commerce, also supported the scheme and said employers should use it as a tool to upskill their staff, by employing youth to take on responsibilities of other employees.
"It could be a huge potential for construction and roading companies to upskill their staff."
She said if used correctly, the scheme would be very helpful in the long run.
David Lowe, employment services manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, said everyone concerned with alarming rates of youth unemployment should be celebrating the announcement.
“Though there is no silver bullet for creating jobs for young people, the Starting-out wage offers a vital first step up the employment ladder.
“Unless there is an incentive for taking on the added issues of employing youth workers, young people will continue to be over represented in the unemployment numbers.
But the Service and Food Workers Union rubbished the move, saying a lower pay rate would not create jobs or give young people skills.
National secretary John Ryall said the adult minimum wage was already too low.
"There is no evidence that reducing the pay rates for some workers to do the same job creates jobs or gives young workers skills.
"This is simply about providing cheap labour in a country where wages are already too low and low-paid workers of all ages are struggling to survive."
Young Workers Resource Centre education co-ordinator Kylie Zinsli also blasted the plan, saying it could cause less motivation for youth to look for jobs.
"In my eyes it's an age-based discrimination, which could lead to low morale and low productivity," she said.
Hamilton teen Kenna Horsfield, 16, said the new wage was both good and bad.
On one hand it would encourage employers to take her and her peers on, but it was not a great motivator for teens to look for work.
"It's a deterrent because you're getting paid less but it'll be good to get us experience. If employers pay less, maybe more people will employ youth," she said.
She had a job cleaning a couple of days a week after school, but wanted a job in fashion retail.
"It's hard to get a job, there's less jobs now," she said.
Labour leader David Shearer said the new wage would simply drive more young New Zealanders to Australia.
"Under National's watch, 65,158 young Kiwis aged between 18-30 have headed to Australia looking for better jobs and opportunities - 21,733 this year alone. Paying lower wages will just drive more of them offshore."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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