Yesterday Labour launched our Youth Skills policy. Jacinda did an excellent post on the details just after it went public. If you live in Wellington and missed it in the DomPost this morning, look again. You’ll see all the salient details comprehensively covered in the news brief below and to the left of the quarter page article and photo espousing John Key’s babysitting and travel companion potential.
There is a certain symmetry to Labour launching a policy to get young Kiwis into work on the same day the National government signed off on a deal to buy a bunch of new electric trains for Auckland from overseas, rather than build them locally here in New Zealand. I think it’s great that Auckland are getting much needed investment in their public transport infrastructure, but why aren’t we cashing in the potential to create somewhere around 1,000 new jobs and add up to $250 million to our GDP?
The link between these two announcements actually runs a lot deeper than highlighting the contrast between Labour, who want to create local jobs, and National, who want to export them overseas. When I speak to a lot of the tradespeople in my electorate, I’m reminded just how many of them did their apprenticeships at the railway workshops, the post office, the car assembly plants, or the freezing works. With the exception of the railway workshops, that now employs a fraction of the staff it once did, all of those big employers are gone.
Those tradespeople are now sole traders or work largely in firms that employ fewer than 10 people. Taking on an apprentice is something they’re more than happy to do. They learned their trade on the job and they’re more than happy to give future generations the same chance. But it’s a huge commitment financially and a lot to ask of such small businesses. That’s why I know they’ll welcome Labour’s plan to convert the dole into apprenticeships subsidies.
A lot of people have remarked to me in the past how crazy it is we pay a young person to sit at home on the dole but we won’t provide some financial support to those willing to take them on and train them up. Well Labour is going to do something about that. Our Youth Skills policy is one that I’m very proud to campaign on. Our plan to get thousands of young Kiwis into work, education and training is in marked contrast to National’s plan to give a couple of hundred young beneficiaries a pre-pay purchase card.
So while baby-sitter John devotes his time to worrying about how young people spend their pocket money, Labour is focused on providing them with a meaningful vocation and hope for the future. Oh, what was that about nanny state again…?