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Mayors applaud youth job plan

§ March 21st, 2013 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Mayors applaud youth job plan

A $150 million Government plan to wipe out youth unemployment has the full support of New Plymouth and South Taranaki mayors. 

Prime Minister John Key yesterday unveiled an ambitious bid to put 16,900 people, aged 16 to 24, in jobs, training, and study over the next 18 months.

The announcement at National’s annual conference in Christchurch comes as the dole queues lengthen by 1300 people a week costing the taxpayer an additional $1 billion a year in benefits. About 17,000 young people are now registered for the dole up from 4000 a year ago. Almost half are Maori and Pacific Islanders.

While the number of jobless in Taranaki is on the rise, youth unemployment is increasing more quickly, more than doubling in the past year to approach 200.

New Plymouth Mayor Peter Tennent said the council had a strong commitment to helping young people into employment and any assistance was more than welcome.

“When I took office there were 1604 under-25s unemployed. We got that down to between 15-30 in the last two years but now the numbers have started to climb significantly again.

“Young people tend to be the ones missing out in hard times so full marks to the Government for what they are doing.”

In further good news for young people, he said New Plymouth had been short listed as a possible location for one of the government’s five promised Trades Academies.

These aim to deliver trades and technology programmes to secondary students through partnerships between schools, tertiary institutions, industry training organisations and employers.

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“I expect an announcement to be made within the next three weeks and I would be very disappointed if we don’t get one,” Mr Tennent said.

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop also welcomed the package as it would complement the council-driven initiatives to put young people in employment.

“In the next few weeks we are going to be working with service providers in our community to see what we can do to help our school leavers,” he said.

As part of the package the Government plans to scrap the dole for 16 to 18-year-olds.

Mr Key confirmed National would introduce legislation before the end of the year ending the unemployment benefit for school-leavers under 18.

Mr Key told delegates yesterday the sharp rise in youth unemployment could be extremely damaging, both for youth and the community.

“Some may be tempted to fill unoccupied hours with petty crime, drinking and drug use, or other activities that sell them way short of their potential.

“We simply can’t afford to leave our young languishing on a benefit.”

Under the Youth Opportunities package, the Government will subsidise a mixture of private job placements, community taskforce initiatives, in-work training, and military-style training programmes.

There will also be extra study places funded at polytechnics and summer scholarships at universities.

In total, 4000 positions will be offered for low-skilled young people in conjunction with businesses and another 3000 in community work.

Another 4000 positions will be offered under National’s Youth Guarantee scheme, which provides fee-free places for 16 and 17-year-olds not in school.

The package will run for the next 18 months, and places will be funded for a maximum of six months.

The Government will subsidise the schemes at the rate of the minimum wage for 30 hours a week essentially offering those on the dole a pay packet of $375 a week rather than the average of $174 they would receive on a benefit.

Another 2500 places will be funded on the Burnham Military Camp Limited Service Volunteer programme, which will be expanded to include two in the North Island.