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Paid work for youth on the dole: Labour

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/11/2016 Karen Sweeney

Labour will give young people on the dole a six-month full-time job earning at least the minimum wage if they win next year's general election, party leader Andrew Little has promised.

The policy was announced in Mr Little's closing address to the party faithful at their annual conference in Auckland on Sunday, but National says it misses the mark.

It targets the 74,000 young New Zealanders currently not in employment, education or training.

"As a parent, as a politician, as someone who gives a damn, I won't give up on our young people," Mr Little says.

"Everyone has potential. Everyone deserves an opportunity to live up to it."

Young people aged 18 to 24 years who have been in the work ready category of the jobseeker allowance will be eligible.

They will be given a six-month job working on environmental and community projects including with the Department of Conservation and organisations like food banks, Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Mr Little stopped short of calling it compulsory, saying there would be exceptions including for caregivers, but the party would use every means it could to get young people involved.

Providing minimum wage and mentoring would cost a Labour government $60 million a year, Mr Little said.

Currently young people aged 18 to 24 receive up to $195 gross per week on the dole, while the minimum wage is $579.50 for 38 hours' work.

Mr Little is confident the six month period will be long enough to motivate young people, get them into a routine and start giving them skills they need for the workforce.

He expects it would take "months not years" to get the first 10,000 young people into the program, with the opportunity to build from there.

But Employment Minister Steven Joyce says the problem is not finding enough work for young people, it's finding the young people and skilling them up to do the work.

"It makes no sense to have a make-work scheme competing with Kiwi businesses for young talent when the biggest concern of employers around the country right now is finding enough young people to fill the jobs available," he said.

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