I noticed a particularly loud commentator (yes it was my husband Mike Hosking) shouting from the rooftops yesterday that Kiwis were lazy, and that we should all be leaping up and down to grab fruit-picking jobs.

Now I'm as keen as the next parent to get teenagers who're loafing around on the couch off their bums and into work, especially with school holidays approaching - but let's be real, they're not going to cake walk into a job paying $23.50 an hour.

In reading the small print around the fruit picker shortage, the $23.50 bandied about is an average, it's also the rate for experienced workers.


Mike Hosking: Lazy Kiwis refuse to work in orchards for good money

Inexperienced pickers and packers are still on minimum wage. Not that I'm bagging minimum wage work, I'm just saying if you add on top of that accommodation costs in the area, transport to and within the area, food - you are already spending a lot of your takings just to be there.

I've found among teenagers there are two camps on the minimum wage rise: those who're thrilled their part-time pay just got bumped up a dollar, and those who've been laid off.

Yep, their job, now that it costs a bit more to have them there, is no longer tenable for many employers. Some would prefer to just reduce that cost and take on whatever menial task the teenager was doing themselves.

Oh and there's another category: teenagers who now can't get jobs. Because what do employers want? Experience.

Many school leavers and students don't have any, they need a hand up. But from an employer's point of view, if you have to pay $17.70 an hour now, why would you shell out for an inexperienced employee?

Take for example the 16-year-old boy in the news this week who has been looking for a farmhand role for a whole year. No one will take him on. They won't take him on because he doesn't have experience.

When I raised this on air, farmers texted me saying there's no way they'd take him on either, with no experience, no 90-day trial, and having to pay him the new minimum wage. The risk is too great, they said.


So what is it kids can do to get a foot in the door?

Well, they could pick fruit. But that requires them to have a car, travel out of their area, pay for petrol, a place to live, and so on.

It's costing them before they even start. And then it's all over in a matter of weeks. The rub of seasonal work.

So do we have a lot of people who can't get jobs? Yes we do. But is it because they're all "lazy"?

Not necessarily.