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Grassroots Forum On Youth Employment - Anderton

Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes

Grassroots Forum On Youth Employment

Riccarton Racecourse
Racecourse Rd

I have been asked to speak on youth employment and youth opportunity.

What I would like to talk about first is New Zealand. Our country, and our future.

In my view we can't talk about young people and children without talking about the New Zealand we have got, and the New Zealand we want.

When I speak to New Zealanders I often say that we need to build on what we have to make this country the best it can be.

I can think of no better group to start work on building for the future, than our young people.

They will inherit everything from us.

If we give our young people a stake in our community then they will be better citizens.

This is why I want to see more employment. There has been a lot of work by New Zealand government's to ensure people can receive unemployment benefits if they can't find work. I support this.

But personally I'd rather we had real sustainable jobs for all New Zealanders. In other words, full employment.

We need to spend as much of our time and government effort in creating sustainable, satisfying jobs as we do to ensuring there is a social security safety net. That is what the Ministry of Economic Development and Industry New Zealand are doing.

These job programmes are being developed against the background of increasing skill shortages. Quite simply New Zealand has work that needs doing.

The last unemployment statistics that came out in May showed us that unemployment is still falling. It is now at 5.4 per cent, the lowest it has been for 12 years.

The sort of country I want our kids to inherit is one where every New Zealander has the opportunity to develop their talents to the full. That was the type of New Zealand in which I grew up.

However in the time since I was a teenager many things have changed. Never before have young people had to face so many challenges.

Today's world is increasingly complex. There are issues that humanity has never had to deal with before.

The things our children need to understand today are more technical than ever before. At the same time our social and family structures are altering and sometimes not as supportive as they once were.

So it's not just about creating jobs.

It's about providing our young people with a platform of understanding, knowledge and esteem that allows them to train, to retrain and to be confident in all that they do.

We spend a lot of time in government discussing skills shortages, barriers to economic growth, e-government and other 'knowledge economy' issues.

What educationalists and experts tell us, though, is that young people and children need a loving and supportive environment in which to learn self respect.

Chances are that a young adult who knows they are loved and has respect for themselves is going to be a good member of our community, have respect for others and bring up any children they have with the same values.

I am impressed by the work of the Canterbury Development Corporation, and Actionworks, funded through the Christchurch City Council.

I believe strongly that the very act of devoting the time and resources that you are committing to helping our young people sends them a vital message.

The message is that they are important, both as individuals and as the foundation of the nation's future.

As you also know, even with all the will in the world, it is still up to our young people to take up the challenge. We can give them all the help and encouragement we can, but at the end of the day they will and should determine their own destiny.

As well as the security of having safety nets, we need to create opportunities.

The Labour Alliance Coalition Government has increased the youth minimum wage and is seeking a fairer deal for young New Zealanders. How can young people feel valued if they are paid a lot less for the same work than other workers? This Government lowered the age of minimum wage eligibility to 18 years in December last year, and made the youth minimum wage 70 per cent of the adult wage.

The Alliance had a choice when we became part of the Government, to choose portfolios that we thought were important, where we thought we could make a difference, and Youth Affairs was one of these.

The Minister of Youth Affairs, Laila Harré has worked hard to give youth a say in Government and through the Ministry of Youth Affairs has initiated strategies to give young people more input.

This Government has also introduced modern apprencticeships which breath life into a system of training that was highly successful for many years. By the end of our first term of office there could be around 4500 young apprentices in training.

We need to give our young people examples of success they can identify with and help them to create things they can aspire to. Many of yesterday's budget ideas were centred around this theme.

I have talked to thousands of New Zealanders.

It is clear to me one of our biggest barriers to success is our reluctance to celebrate it!

If New Zealand is to do better both socially and economically we need to get more comfortable, and certainly a lot more enthusiastic about celebrating our successes rather than dwelling on our failures.

What has amazed me is the reluctance of New Zealanders to talk about their amazing achievements. What they do and what they have done is often both remarkable and spectacularly brilliant. But we are reluctant to be seen to be promoting ourselves.

What continues to impress me is that New Zealanders know the answers and have the ideas to solve our own problems and take our country towards a better future.

We are known internationally for our innovation, our creativity and our ability to generate new ideas.

What we need to be better known for is our self confidence and an ability to make things happen. This is a legacy I want us to leave with young New Zealanders.

We need to encourage and make it possible for New Zealanders to be the best they can be, at whatever field in which they have the ability to excel.

Some of the measures I have responsibility for in the budget yesterday are designed to address this.

There are a number of security initiatives such as an excellent youth suicide prevention package, commitment to paid parental leave, and an eco package.

Youth Suicide prevention programmes have received a $1.673 million boost in this year's budget, which Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harre has worked hard on.

As you will know yesterday the Government announced that there is an additional $56 million over the next four years for an additional 17,400 industry training places. Steve Maharey is leading this top priority.

I think the most exciting part of the entire budget was those announcements that create new opportunities.

Yesterday I was able to announce total funding for Vote Industry and Regional Development in 2001-02 is $96.183 million, up from $49.492 million in 2000-01.

Funding for these initiatives comes from the $331.875 million set aside by the Government over a four year period from 2000-01.
There are programmes worth $34.352 million a year in new spending which will be directed to individuals, small businesses, high growth industries, local communities and entire regions.

We now have programmes that recognise that New Zealanders are the most creative and innovative people in the world.

We have a way of supporting promising individuals. We will allocate $1.95 million a year to support the development of promising individuals in science and innovation.

This programme will increase the number of Science, Maths and Technology teacher and post doctoral fellowships and have more Tuapapa Putaiao Fellowships, which are for Maori with post-graduate degrees in science and technology.

We also have a programme called "World Class New Zealanders", and is a 'brain gain' initiative designed to identify and network with New Zealanders who are world class thinkers.

I want to see more profile for role models and examples of kiwis as world leaders for our young people.

Real and virtual networks will use existing business connections and New Zealanders overseas to access international markets and promote New Zealand.

This $2.250 million initiative will help to lift the level of business expertise in New Zealand, share innovative ideas and expose New Zealanders to international best practice. It will expand the availability of world class technology and help to attract new investment to New Zealand.

To achieve a culture change we have another programme to celebrate success which sees $2 million a year to promote a culture of enterprise and increase the number of New Zealanders willing to turn their ideas into commercial ventures.

These programmes will be developed and targeted at students, teachers, universities and businesses at the national and regional level.

There is no shortage of good ideas in the community. And we are making it easier for those ideas to succeed commercially.

A "jobs for tertiary students" programme will be announced in July.

The scheme is being developed to improve students’ job prospects during summer holidays and increase student opportunities to gain work experience.

At the same time it will help businesses to grow by giving them access to young talented people on whom New Zealand's future depends.

These are broadly some of the initiatives. You can read about them in the budget papers or on the websites.

I want to finish by saying that helping young people is not just about social or economic programmes.

Our young people need a share in our community, they need to feel they are part of their own society.

To me this requires creating opportunities, as well as a sense of security.

It is all about training and jobs and providing examples which inspire and motivate.

We need to believe in ourselves.

We need to believe in our young people.

Thank you for all the work you are doing towards supporting these objectives. I support your efforts. This is a partnership which involves all of us and I am happy to play my part.

In the coming months I look forward to more excellent work coming from all of you in your work with our young adults as you work with those to whom we will entrust the future of our country.


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