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Youth not passing work drug tests: PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/02/2017

Young Kiwis not passing drug tests is a problem for employers filling jobs in skills shortage areas, Prime Minister Bill English says.

While there are good initiatives across New Zealand to match locals with skills shortage jobs, he says drug issue means migrant workers are still needed.

"One of the hurdles these days is just passing the drug tests," Mr English said on Monday.

"Under workplace safety you can't have people on your premises under the influence of drugs and a lot of our younger people can't pass that test."

Mr English said he was hearing anecdotal evidence from two to three individual businesses each week about the problem.

"If you go around the country you'll hear all sorts of stories, some good, some not so good about Kiwis' willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available," he said.

Mr English said it was a problem in "most industries" but wasn't willing to comment on what drugs were at the root of the problem.

As for how to fix it, he said that was a challenge because while once it was "quite acceptable" to employ regular drug users, workplace safety laws meant that was no longer the case.

"There's not a lot you can do directly about that, particularly if these are young people who are in every other respect capable of finding a job," he said.

Last year Mr English, then finance minister, said some Kiwis looking for work were "pretty damned hopeless" and "can't read and write properly".

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