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National's youth work scheme too little too late

After nine years, National’s belated attempt to provide work opportunities for unemployed youth should be seen for what it is, a half-hearted, election gimmick from a party that’s ignored the problem till now, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“It beggars belief this scheme has been cobbled together ten weeks from the election when for more than a year Bill English has preferred to write off young unemployed people as pretty damn hopeless and too drugged and lazy.

“You just have to be cynical that National is suddenly finding solutions to long standing problems with the election around the corner. It’s not credible; it’s not a serious attempt to deal with a problem that has just got worse under this Government.

“We have 90,000 young people not in education, work or training. National is limiting help to just over 5,000 and in only four regions. They would have done better to adopt our policy.

"Obviously, the reason National won't do more is because they would prefer to spend $400 million on a tax cut for the wealthiest 10 per cent rather than invest in the future of young people who need the help more. It just shows how misplaced their priorities are.

“In contrast, Labour’s committed to giving hope and opportunity to far more of our at-risk youth with a comprehensive plan.

“Ready for Work will provide youth with the skills they need to be work-ready. We are targeting 10,000 a year and offering six months on-the- job training. Labour’s Dole for Apprenticeship scheme offers employers who are willing to train an apprentice the equivalent of the unemployment benefit. And we’re making post-school education free for three years so students can access training without being shackled by debt.

“These are credible measures that will make a real difference to ensuring our young can access the training they need to enter the work force and secure long term, sustainable jobs.

“National has had nine years to tackle the problem. They can’t be trusted to deliver less than three months out from the election. It’s time for Labour’s fresh approach,” says Andrew Little.