The Government has announced the first tranche of its plan to get youth into jobs with a $13 million fund aimed at 2000 young people in the regions – but NZ First MP Shane Jones' talk of work for the dole has been kicked into touch.
Employment Minister Willie Jackson said the $13.27m would help get about 2000 young people into jobs in the regions through the He Poutama Rangatahi employment scheme.
Jackson said the first regions to benefit would be Northland, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti and Hawke's Bay, areas he said had the highest proportions of youth out of work.
He said about 81,000 young people were not in education, work or training. "This might get us 2000 to start off with but that's 2000 more than National got to in terms of the regions."
The cost would include pastoral support for the youth as well as support for employers.
"Fundamental to this approach will be building a kete of tightly woven pastoral care around individuals."
National's employment spokesman Paul Goldsmith said Jackson's funding announcement was simply rebranding of $50 million in funding the former National Government had set aside for employment for youth in the regions in Budget 2017.
He said it was ironic the announcement came a day after Labour announced it was scrapping the 90 day trial for businesses with more than 20 staff and was getting rid of a "starting out" wage rate for new youth workers.
"Removing the 90 trial and the starting out wage means it's now less likely that employers will take a chance on these young people, particularly those with no qualifications or experience, as a result of this Government's silly policies.
"Mr Jackson's flowery rhetoric really says nothing and just goes to show Labour doesn't understand where jobs really come from. The best way to get young people into work is to have an economy that is creating plenty of jobs."
However, the package was welcomed by the trade unions.
FIRST Union kaumatua Syd Keepa said it came after the JNL announcement it planned to axe 100 jobs in Tairawhiti. "Regions such as Tairāwhiti need programmes like this and also an active labour market response from the Government that will provide a just transition for redundant workers into new productive employment."
He acknowledged it built on the He Poutama Rangatahi initiative of the former National Government in 2017 but said the fruits of that had not yet been seen. "It is good that we have a new Government and a new Minister that will develop this programme further and put in the energy to making it a success."
Jones late last year said he wanted a "work for the dole" scheme to get his pledge to plant 100 million trees a year under way, which he said would get his "ne'er-do-well nephews" in Northland into work rather than the gangs.
Jackson told RNZ Labour had "totally rejected" that but Jones supported Labour's plans.
"He has his views but Shane completely understands the Labour view which is about dignity, real jobs, and supporting our communities. Shane Jones and I are 100 per cent on song with that."
He said the $13 million was just the start of the new employment strategy that targeted mainly youth, but also women and the disabled.
"We're talking about forestry, horticulture, right across the board. We won't be turning our nose up to anyone. Shane Jones talked about cutting scrub and if there are young people who get out and cut scrub and there's a sustainable future there, they'll be doing that."