Paula Bennett tells our Job Tour reporters how she went from washing dishes to a $250,000 salary and says young people should do everything they can to get work experience.
Young people thinking of hanging around on the dole can forget about it on her watch, says Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett.
She says that work is a vital part of a good life, and there's no way she's letting young people stay on the dole.
"You may not get your dream job, but you need to prove that you have other attributes. Take the risks, show up early and convince someone you can give the job 100 per cent. Suck it up, and do what you need to do to make a reasonable living and get ahead in life," she told us in an interview at the Beehive.
Her rise from single mother on the benefit to minister with one of the biggest portfolios in government has been well documented and she said during our interview with her that she has risen from washing dishes in a rest home to a quarter million a year "dream job".
But her belief in young people and her hard truths about getting a job were very apparent in our interview.
We went into the interview with one goal in mind - to find out why youth unemployment is at its highest since 1994 (22 per cent of 15-19 year olds are unemployed), and most importantly, what the Government is doing about it.
The Minister offered no substantial reason for the high figure apart from the fact that there are more youth than in 1994. She says a contributing factor of high unemployment is that the recession has caused many businesses to overlook younger people when they can hire skilled and experienced workers for a similar amount of money.
Meanwhile, the new Jobs Op and Community Max schemes have seen a further 4000 youth employed through a scheme that subsidises businesses that employ younger people.
The scheme is about making younger people look more attractive to businesses and giving them six months to prove themselves. Even if it doesn't turn into a job, the youth then have something to put on their CV, have proven work skills and a reference.
One of the reoccurring things we've heard on our job tour is that New Zealanders don't have the right customer service skills required in industries like hospitality, retail and tourism, which means we are often overlooked, because travellers seem the more appealing choice.
The minister says that what's needed to combat this is better training, and that employers can't expect people to know everything off the mark.
She says that basic courses are needed that train people in engaging conversation, how to sell, how to use the various technology and the importance of coming across as though you are there to assist people.
Check out what else she had to say in our video interview (link top right).
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