The Labour Party wants to put more New Zealanders to work by training them in relevant skills as part of its six-point jobs plan.
MPs campaigning yesterday at a training centre in Onehunga announced an "ambitious" target for three-quarters of New Zealanders to get at least level 3 qualifications by 2020.
"We know to compete in the world we've got to be the best, we can't be the cheapest," said party leader Phil Goff.
Every young person under 20 should be earning or learning, he said.
Mr Goff highlighted the "outrage" that some of the up to 30,000 workers needed to rebuild Christchurch were being recruited from Manchester.
"Why are we bringing in people from Manchester when we should be training young Cantabrians to rebuild their city?" he asked.
"There are 10,000 young people not in employment, education or training in Christchurch who would love the chance to rebuild their city - but the opportunities haven't been opened up for skills training.
"That's really not good enough. We've got to put our people at the top of the queue. That means in the year since the earthquake, we should've been training our people."
Labour's proposed policies for skills training included boosting adult education, which was cut by National, and encouraging workplace training.
The party would also scrap the Government's boot camps for youth transition services, which were aimed at helping young people into careers.
Mr Goff said increased training would lead to savings because young people would be taken off the dole.
"We're spending a billion dollars a year on unemployment benefits. We need those people not to be sitting on an unemployment benefit going nowhere with their lives, we need them to be learning or to be earning," he said.
"We've got a huge problem in New Zealand - it's called 157,000 New Zealanders out of work."
Dole payments would be used to subsidise employers to take on 9000 new apprentices, Mr Goff said.
The initiatives would kick-start the economy and create jobs, he said.
"New Zealand can't afford three more years of the same narrow, hands-off economic management that National is offering. We need more than drift ... National's plan to sell assets won't create a single job."
The party summarised its jobs plan in six points:
* A savings scheme to boost investment for New Zealand businesses.
*More money for research and development.
*A monetary policy that looks to stabilise the New Zealand dollar.
*Support to get unemployed young people into training and apprenticeships.
*Stimulating the economy by raising the minimum wage and increasing spending.
*Making Kiwi jobs a consideration when issuing government contracts.