Nanaia Mahuta: New Year's resolutions

By Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta

As people wind down from their summer holiday and reflect on their New Year's resolutions made and already broken, the year looks set for political change.

There is a growing expectation the Government will do more to improve domestic growth and employment opportunities which will stop the numbers of Kiwis looking for jobs across the ditch.

Last year, 53,676 Kiwis flew to Australia in search of better prospects - the largest number to flee in a single year.

Provincial regions like the Waikato should be boosting the ability to train and retain local youth in jobs or training. Sadly, we too are affected by the same trend and something needs to change.

The announcement to increase the number of young apprentices is welcome but the evidence to show anything will change is still a long way off the radar.

Youth training and employment is a huge challenge for a National Government and it should be held accountable for outcomes in this area.

Lifting NCEA for the majority of young people is an important objective, but I would argue that the way to achieve this is to broaden the range of subject strengths that young people excel in and are applicable to a modern labour market.

Labour believes in supporting schools to be more responsive to their students at primary school, recognising that diversity is a strength and teaching maths, English and reading against a context that those children are familiar with.

In its current context National Standards applies a one size fits all measure and will brand some kids too early as failures.

We need another way because this country will rely on our young people participating in an active labour market that values the diversity of their skill and talent - at all levels and across all sectors of the labour market.

Spare a thought for those young people who make it to university and find a National Government has limited their ability to access student allowances to 200 weeks.

For many, this will erode the support previously offered at post-graduate level.

This is the time to invest in skills training rather than limit the Government's investment if we are serious about becoming a productive, high-wage economy.

Youth skills training, education and employment is a serious challenge that sits on the 2013 agenda, no ducking and diving because our young people deserve better.

- Hamilton News

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