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Wananga hides thousands of unemployed

Wananga hides thousands of unemployed

Wednesday 2 Mar 2005

Ken Shirley - Press Releases - Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

ACT MP Ken Shirley today said the Minister for Social Development and Employment did well to duck and dive answering his question in parliament today on the number of beneficiaries enrolled in Te Wananga o Aotearoa's Mahi Ora course.

"Mr Maharey couldn't spit out the answer but we know the number of beneficiaries in the Mahi Ora course in 2003 alone was probably about 13,000. We also know that every student on this free level-two correspondence course got a free cellphone. What's more, government funding for the Mahi Ora programme in 2003 amounted to $38.2 million."

Mr Shirley said it wasn't difficult working out the number of beneficiaries in the Mahi Ora course. Ministry of Education official figures showed that a total of 25,939 students were enrolled in the programme in 2003. In the same year, the wananga was reported as estimating that half of those enrolled in the course were indeed beneficiaries.

"We don't have a problem with beneficiaries being referred by Work and Income into courses. However it is outrageous that the Minister can't tell us how many beneficiaries have gone into wananga courses.

"Unsurprisingly he has no trouble talking up falling Maori unemployment. That's because the Labour Government has used wananga to hide real Maori unemployment figures.

"No ones believes that because there are 13,000 beneficiaries in a Mahi Ora course, real Maori unemployment dramatically reduces. No jobs have been filled. All that has changed is that the Government funds them as students not beneficiaries. Subsequently, the Household Labour Force Survey statistics look more favourable.

"Huge enrolments in Mahi Ora courses have been more of a help in reducing Maori unemployment than Labour's anti-growth policies. No wonder the Government's been keen to shovel money at the wananga for so long, and no wonder Mr Maharey's keen to hide just how many students are actually disguised unemployed," said Mr Shirley.

ENDS

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