It's great to hear about initiatives where rangatahi out there looking for jobs.

It's important to ensure that we have an education, skills training pathway that works for them to play a productive role in towns and cities!

Smart Waikato's Secondary School Employer Partnerships reckon they are having a significant impact on getting our kids jobs - and that's a good thing.

SSEP introduces year 9 and 10 students to a wide range of careers and more than 4,000 students from over 22 schools have taken part in the programme over the last couple of years.

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The idea is that our children are targeted before they make important decision on what NCEA subjects they will study and they are introduced to key local industries.

I have often heard communities despair that their young people leave their town because there is little opportunity locally - that is fast changing. The big plus for the Waikato is that the research shows that this means rangatahi are staying on in the region.

Our coalition Government is committed to getting our young people working full time and learning skills across the country. Nothing shows this better than our new Mana in Mahi initiative that was introduced this month.

We have inherited a major problem with nearly 11 per cent of our 15 to 24-year-old not employed. For our Maori young people it's as high as 15 per cent.

The figure has been going down but not fast enough.

Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work is designed to help those 18 to 24-year-old who have been on the benefit for SIX months or more.

We want them in real jobs. They will work towards industry training qualifications with support from their employer and help from the Government to cover the costs of their training.

Mana in Mahi will mean that our rangatahi will not only be able to get New Zealand apprenticeships but other industry training qualifications.

Rangatahi will have the option to enter straight into a level 4 qualification or enter lower down in the industry and work towards a level 4 qualification.

This scheme has to work for employers as well and that is why we will pay a wage subsidy to employers willing to hire anyone on the benefit. Employers have been telling us that it getting hard to find the people with right skills for our smaller and mid-sized businesses.

The coalition Government is deliberately starting small. At this stage we are working with four employer groups and we have 40 places available.

In the future Mana in Mahi will be a win-win and along with the great Waikato school initiative it will mean that the unemployment rate for our rangatahi will and must fall.
More importantly more young people will be able to put their talent to work so they can flourish.