At midday today we released our youth employment policy. There was a reason we chose to do it at a plumbing and gas outfit in the Hutt- our policy focuses heavily on apprenticeships. But that is by no means all it does.
You would have heard us pretty consistently challenging the government over youth unemployment on several fronts. First, the need to create sustainable jobs rather than throwing money at make work schemes, second we need more vocational training places (the government has cut $140mill out of this area) and third, the scale of the problem means we need a pretty comprehensive set of ideas to deal with it. That’s exactly what we announced today. Here’s the summary version:
- 1000 placements for at risk youth in the Gateway scheme, which puts young people into work place learning while they’re still at school
-Improving career services and vocational pathways, especially for young people interested in options outside of tertiary study
- Extending youth transition services to make sure that every school leaver is supported into further training, education and employment. This follows the recommendations of the New Zealand Institute and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs
- Converting dole payments into a subsidy for employers to take on 9000 new apprentices
- 5000 new training places for 16 and 17 year olds, 1,000 of which are targeted at maori trades training, and 1,000 for pasifika young people, with a mentoring component attached (both groups are over represented in our youth unemployment statistics)
- 1,000 additional apprenticeships allocated to group apprenticeships, shared apprenticeships and public service cadets
- An additional 1,500 Conservation Corp places
- Staged apprenticeships in Christchurch, so that apprentices can get basic skills quickly and play a productive role in the rebuild without having to bring in workers from overseas
The whole package comes in at $251 million, but after factoring in the money that is saved through reprioritisation of current government spending, and the savings via the dole, the total cost comes in at $171million and will be funded by our already announced tax plan. Ultimately though, this is a package that has us investing a bit, to save a lot. The New Zealand institute has calculated that the cost of unemployed and disengaged youth to tax payers in $900million.
And finally, job creation. We already know that the demand for skilled trades people exists, but employers just can’t afford to train new people in the job- our dole subsidy scheme will help with that. More broadly though, we also know that our economic policy (supporting exporters, our R&D tax credit, and moving investment to the productive economy) will all play a role in creating sustainable jobs.
There is more to be said on employment beyond young people, but this is a critical area, and one we’re Labour is showing we’re willing to invest in order to save….in so many ways.