$17m policy aims to get youth jobs

By Derek Cheng

Exclusive - Labour plans new career agency and increased subsidies for apprentices.

Labour MP Grant Robertson. Photo / APN
Labour MP Grant Robertson. Photo / APN

The Labour Party is promising to put $17 million into a new agency to help people on to the right career path, and to ramp up its dole-for-apprenticeship plans for the young and the jobless.

Labour's employment, skills and training spokesman, Grant Robertson, will make an announcement in Christchurch today, which will be followed by others relating to jobs this week.

Today's announcement is expected to include a plan to replace Careers New Zealand with a new agency to oversee a national careers strategy.

Funding for the agency would be $17 million over four years, most of which would go towards helping careers advice at school, which the party considers inconsistent and highly variable around the country.

The agency would bring together schools, employers, tertiary education providers and career advisory experts. It would focus on youth, but also help adults who were looking at a change of profession.

Labour will also add some more heft to its proposal to convert dole payments into incentives for employers to take on additional apprentices. In 2011, Labour wanted an $8700 subsidy for 9000 apprenticeships.

Today's announcement is understood to increase the subsidy to $9100, to fund 12,000 placements.

The national unemployment rate was 6.2 per cent in March. The rate for those aged 15 to 19 was 22.3 per cent, and for those aged 20 to 24 it was 13.1 per cent. Those eligible for Labour's scheme would be 18 or 19 years old, and have been on a benefit for at least three months.

Labour has already promised to scrap youth wages and boost the minimum wage from $14.25 an hour to $15 within 100 days of taking office, and then to $16.25 an hour from early next year.

The Government said Labour's proposal could potentially lead to 6000 fewer jobs.

Labour's youth employment package
• Dole for apprenticeships for 12,000 placements for 18- and 19-year-olds.
• Scrapping Careers NZ and setting up a new agency.
• $17 million over four years, including improving career advice in schools.

For the Herald's full coverage of the 2014 election, go to: tinyurl.com/nzhelection

- NZ Herald

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