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Young people need to shape up

23 February 2006

Young people need to shape up

"If young people want to be paid the same as adult workers, many of them need to sharpen up their act," says Paul Winter of EMA Central.

The proposed abolition of youth minimum wage rates would see adult minimum wages applied to all 16 and 17 year olds. But employers are saying that many young people don't deserve the same wages as older workers.

"Our members tell us that in their experience, many 16 and 17 year olds lack basic work ethics. They also have less skills and experience than older workers," he said.

"Paying young people less than older workers can be a fair reflection of the difference in their contribution. It also covers the extra costs involved in training them."

A Private Members Bill to abolish the youth minimum wage rates and extend the adult rates to 16 and 17 year olds had its first reading in the House yesterday, and was referred to select committee for further consideration.

Paul Winter says EMA Central has been informally polling members for their views

"A strong majority of respondents from a wide range of industry sectors were opposed to the Bill," he said. "Because employers don't see people in this age group as providing the same value as older workers, legislating for equal pay is likely to result in fewer work opportunities for young people."

Paul Winter said that the employers who responded are prepared to pay more for young people who work hard and are good at their job. But what they don't want is to be forced to pay a young person the same as an older person when they're not providing the same value.

He then quoted some typical responses from employers:

"It is my experience that the older staff will be more consistent and therefore put out more product and at a better quality than inexperienced youth."

"Should the youth minimum wage be scrapped and given the choice between a youth and an adult at the same rate of pay I would then choose an adult every time."

"Youth do not have the skills to achieve or expect par rates."

"I would be less likely to employ youth in the future if the rates rose to the same rate as an adult wage."

"I accept a higher level of mistakes from the youth workers as they are learning."

"It is my experience that younger people tend not to have the same work ethic as older workers."

"Youth of this age do not have the concentration skills of 18 years plus."

"By increasing youth rates to adult rates, the government will be placing young people with little or no work experience in direct competition with people who have many years of work experience and well developed work ethics and who are positively motivated…"


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