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Youth rates law would boost teenage unemployment

Tuesday, 21 February, 2005

Youth rates law would boost teenage unemployment

The current unemployment rate of 12 per cent for 15 to 19 year olds is likely to rise if the Bill introduced to Parliament tomorrow becomes law, says David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern).

The average unemployment rate for the workforce overall is 3.4 per cent.

"The abolition of youth rates means a lot more teenagers would find work harder to get," Mr Lowe said.

"School leavers already find it hard enough to get started. The option to pay minimum youth rates often gets teenage careers underway.

"The new law would abolish youth rates which apply to 16 and 17 year olds who usually have little or no regular work experience. They often need a lot of supervision.

"Abolishing the youth rates would hurt teenagers more than help them, especially with the present economic outlook, because if an employer has a choice between a school leaver with no work experience, and a more experienced worker, they will choose the worker with more experience every time, unless there is an incentive to do otherwise.

"In an EMA survey on this last year 14 per cent of employers reported they were paying youth rates. Some said they would not hire school leavers at all if youth rates were unavailable, and look for older workers instead."

ENDS

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