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Third of employers would stop hiring young people

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Third of employers would stop hiring young people: survey. 70% pay above minimum rates

A survey by the Northern Employers & Manufacturers Association confirms that abolishing youth rates will hurt teenage employment.

“Over a third of employers currently hiring 16 and 17 year olds said they would stop if youth rates were abolished,” says David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the EMA.

852 employers responded to the survey of which 55 per cent said they don’t employ any 16 and 17 year olds. The sample of businesses employing 16 and 17 year olds was over 380 (see below).

“The survey presents clear evidence that the high teenage unemployment rate of 12 per cent will rise higher if the Bill becomes law,” Mr Lowe said.

“The survey also shows 70 per cent of employers pay the minimum wage to all or most of their staff to reflect their skills and experience. The minimum wage is plainly just that, a minimum.

“The survey found a real mix of teenagers employed while still at school or studying, and those who have left school.

“A couple of bad cases have been picked out to drum up support to abolish youth rates though it is clear the stories are exceptions, not the rule.

“One survey respondent summed it up: “Youth rates encourage us to hire and train young people who do not even know how to work in a job let alone have any skill. As soon as they demonstrate interest, commitment and/or skill we increase their pay rapidly to ensure we do not lose them.”

Survey results

1. Do you employ 16 and 17 year olds?
Yes 384 45.1%
No 468 54.9%
Total 852 100.0%

2. If youth rates were abolished how would this affect your business?
Not at all 114 29.8%
A little bit 165 43.1%
Quite a bit but you will cope 66 17.2%
Significantly with adverse affects 38 9.9%
Total of Yes respondents to Q1 383 100.0%

3. If youth rates were abolished, would you keep on hiring 16 and 17 year olds?
Yes 239 63.4%
No 138 36.6%
Total 377 100.0%

4. Of the 16 and 17 year olds you employ on youth rates, what percentage are either still at school or studying?
Less than 20% 142 38.2%
20% - 40% 28 7.5%
40% - 60% 34 9.1%
60% - 80% 155 41.7%
80% - 100% 13 3.5%
Total 372 100.0%

5. Do you pay the minimum youth rate of $8.20 per hour to:
None of your 16 and 17 year olds 183 48.3%
Some 87 23.0%
Most 32 8.4%
All 77 20.3%
Total 379 100.0%

Comments employers made included:

- “These people were seasonal workers. Because of their immaturity I have to make sure they are fully supervised at all times.”

- “We pay our employees what they are worth. If they do the equivalent of adult work, with adult responsibilities we pay them an adult rate.”

- “Minimum rate is just a starter rate; we will review their skill and work performance”

- “Some 16 and 17 year olds have no idea that they need to be productive to earn their wages, and an increase needs to be earned and appreciated as does a highly productive and conscientious employee needs to be rewarded.”

- “Why bother to employ young kids at the same rate as adults when the kids are not reliable, have no life skills, want to keep changing shifts and frequently do not show for work.”

- “Generally youth workers are sons and daughters of staff members who need school holiday jobs.”

- “We have tended to pay marginally above minimum rates – however my observation would be that limited experience and need for supervision does not place them in the same category as adults.”

- “Currently we pay above the minimum rate for 16 and 17 year olds. Disappointing that people with very little work experience should be remunerated as someone with greater experience.”

- “If we had to pay adult rates I do not think we would employ school leavers anymore.”

- “Youths we employ seldom stay on youth rates for long. Usually they are paid higher rates after productivity picks up.”


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