There are some sensible ideas in Labour’s Youth Employment Policy, but others would make it harder to employ young people.
The sensible ideas include a personalised education plan for every secondary student and enhancing the Gateway Scheme.
A lot of work has already been done to promote youth employment and it is good that Labour would retain Youth Guarantee, New Zealand Apprenticeships, the Reboot Scheme, Maori Trades Training and Pasifika Trade Training.
But the proposal to pay employers the equivalent of the dole if they take on an unemployed (18 or 19 year old) on ‘Kick Start Apprenticeships’ contradicts Labour’s other employment policies of an increased minimum wage, no starting out wage, and no trial periods.
These policies make it less likely that employers would find the ‘Kick Start’ proposal workable.
Labour’s proposal requiring all under 20 to be in work, education or training without any supporting information on the quality and likely employment outcomes of the education and training or how it would be costed, delivered and paid for is not convincing.
Other elements of Labour’s policy are more promising.
Enhancing the Gateway Programme that provides workplace learning for students while keeping them in school is a good idea. More students should have the opportunity to be exposed to Gateway Programmes where they do well.
Care needs to be taken in targeting ‘at risk’ students that we do not destroy existing successful programmes like the retail sector’s Red Shirt in Schools Programme.
Requiring a personalised education plan to be developed for every high school student to guide their learning is also a good idea, provided that the process also includes good quality careers information and guidance.
Making this a reality would require a substantial strengthening of careers guidance and stronger accountability by school Boards for their career guidance responsibilities.
Phil O’Reilly is Chief Executive of BusinessNZ based in Wellington.