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Labour’s plan: all teens earning or learning

Phil GOFF
Labour Leader
Thursday, 1 September 2011

Labour’s plan: all teens earning or learning

Labour today announced its youth skills and employment package which gives all teenagers the opportunity to be earning or learning within three years.

“Everyone knows that our youth unemployment rate is far too high – our young people represent more of our total unemployment numbers than in any other OECD country,” Labour Leader Phil Goff said.

“This is a ticking time-bomb and has to be fixed. These kids are our future but at the moment they are being left on the scrapheap. If we don’t do something now, we will all pay a far higher price. The New Zealand Institute estimates the cost of disengaged youth is $900 million a year.

“Our package focuses on the 24,000 teenagers who are currently not working or in education or training.

The main components of the package are:

• Converting dole payments into a $8700 subsidy to fund 9000 additional apprenticeship places

• 5,000 new training places for 16 and 17 year olds

• 1,000 extra group and shared apprenticeships

• Supporting and mentoring at-risk school leavers into earning or learning opportunities.

“Labour’s package will cost $251 million over four years.

“However we will reprioritise $80 million from existing schemes, with $58 million going to the apprenticeship subsidy instead of dole payments, giving a net total cost of $171 million over four years.

This will be paid for from revenue from Labour’s fairer tax plan.

“It is not a case of whether we can afford to do this. We simply can’t afford not to,” Phil Goff said.

“Our package starts before our young people leave school and follows them into training or further education and into the workforce.

“It is crazy to have high youth unemployment alongside a growing skills shortage crisis. It is not about make-work schemes. It is about creating relevant education and training opportunities and providing clear pathways to real jobs,” Phil Goff said

“Our package will convert dole payments into incentives for employers to take on additional apprentices. We will match skill training within and outside of schools with real job opportunities. We will better inform, mentor and support young people so that they undertake and complete their training.

“Adopting some of the ideas from the old Maori Trade training programme and applying them to Maori and Pasifika communities will enable us to target exceptionally high unemployment rates there.”

“What we are proposing is not rocket science; it is common sense.

“We will build on proven programmes such as Gateway, the youth transition service, tertiary high schools and trades academies, and the Conservation Corps.

“We will spend carefully, but will spend where we need to. We need to do that to prevent an already serious problem from becoming a costly social and economic disaster,” Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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