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Douglas out of touch on youth unemployment

Douglas out of touch on youth unemployment

17 June, 2011 - MPs like Act’s Sir Roger Douglas who are so completely of touch with young workers should not be critical of one of the most effective bodies addressing youth unemployment, says Labour’s Spokesperson for Employment and Youth Affairs, Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern said that Sir Roger this week told the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs, a nationwide network of Mayors working on the issues of work and livelihood in their communities, to abolish themselves and ‘disband immediately’.

“I also met the taskforce this week. Its members are engaged with youth unemployment issues and care deeply about finding solutions to what has become a crisis.”

Jacinda Ardern also criticised Sir Roger’s call to bring back youth wage rates. “If young people are doing the same job as older workers, they should be paid the same. There’s no value or justification at all in simply getting rid of older workers and replacing them with cheaper young workers. That’s just transferring the unemployment problem.

“The answer is not cheap wage rates. It is creating sustainable jobs. The taskforce is chaired by Dale Williams, the Mayor of Otorohanga, where not one person under the age of 25 is on an unemployment benefit. Otorohanga achieved this goal by ensuring that there was sufficient training available to young people, good relationships with local employers and a support network for young people transitioning out of education.

“They achieved their vision by creating a constructive plan, not by devaluing their young people and paying them less,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Youth unemployment has reached dire levels in New Zealand, with 27 per cent of people aged 15-19. The last time that we saw youth unemployment rates reach this level was in the early 1990s, when youth unemployment reached 23 per cent. Youth rates had no impact on youth unemployment then, and they won’t bring levels down now. The lowest levels in recent times were under Labour when youth wages were abolished.

"Labour will focus on job creation and growth and investing in skills,” Jacinda Ardern said. “If Roger Douglas can't come up with any practical ideas, rather than abusing those who are working constructively, he might like to ‘abolish’ himself from Parliament.”


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