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National fails youth yet again

National fails youth yet again

National's tinkering with youth wage rates shows for the second time in two days that John Key hasn't got the courage to tackle the real problems facing New Zealand, Labour's Youth Affairs and Employment spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

"Youth unemployment has skyrocketed under National and now John Key wants those lucky enough to get a job to be paid less.

"You don't improve the lot of our future generations by paying them less than an older person doing the same job. There is no justification whatsoever in doing it.

"It will do nothing to create jobs. Rather it is more likely to result in a new exodus of young Kiwis going overseas and will transfer the unemployment problem from one end of the age scale to the other," Jacinda Ardern said.

"Yesterday John Key hid rather than debate Labour's savings plans with Phil Goff. That's just head in the sand stuff.

"Here we have another huge issue - youth unemployment - and what happens? The Prime Minister ignores that as well.

"All he is doing is extending the 'starting out' minimum wage period for young people from 200 hours or three months to six months. We already know that only a third of businesses employing 16 and 17 year olds pay these kids this rate.

"And we already know there is no evidence to say that work done by younger and new workers is of less value than the work done by others," Jacinda Ardern said.

"Rather than making some bold plans to tackle what is a growing and hugely concerning problem - 24,000 under 20 year olds are not in employment, education or training - the Prime Minister has once again demonstrated National has no answers.

"What young people need are the skills to succeed in the job market and achieve higher incomes and better jobs. Creating high skill, high-wage jobs is the way to grow the economy and give our kids hope for the future, not cutting pay.

"Labour has plans to do exactly that, including giving employers the equivalent of the dole to employ apprentices, encouraging more at-risk teenagers into hands-on learning and creating additional apprenticeships.

"Labour is committed to opening up future opportunities for every young New Zealander and ensuring that every at-risk 15-19 year old will be either learning or earning by the end of our first term," Jacinda Ardern said.

Authorised by Jacinda Ardern, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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