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Posts Tagged ‘58000 youth unemployed’

Paula Bennett on unemployment: spin baby, spin!

9 April 2012 8 comments

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All ministers have a coterie of staff. They consist of  PAs, researchers, speech writers, policy analysts, media experts, and… ‘spin doctors’. Actually, any of the previous list can be labelled a “spin doctor”.

“Spin Doctors” take a piece of information and presents it in a certain, carefully constructed way, that makes their respective Minister look good to the public.

Example; National’s recent policy on 16 and 17 year old unemployed youth was “reformed”, announcing that they would be issued “purchase cards”, to eliminate wasting their benefit on cigarettes and alcohol.

End goal: to make National look good in the public eye, by getting “tough on welfare”.

(Except for one thing. It’s already against the law for retailers to sell tobacco and alcohol products to 16 and 17 year olds.  The law is already in place to deal with this issue. And if retailers are selling these products to 16 and 17 year olds, then it’s a RETAIL problem – not a welfare problem.)

But the Spin Doctors quietly ignored that salient fact and simply pushed the message: National is “getting tough on welfare”.

That’s the message being spun and put out to the public to absorb. One simple line.

Anyone who doubts the efficacy of spin doctoring of  such messages should check letters-to-editors and on-line fora to see how many low-information, National-friendly “armchair experts” now repeat that one, simplified Official Line; the government is “getting tough on welfare”.

That’s “spin”.

Today, Bennet’s media people released this apparently positive news into the public arena,

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Source

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But not before her Spin Doctors got their hands on it first,

More than 5000 people cancelled their unemployment benefits because they found jobs last month.”

It could well be that 5,000 “cancelled their unemployment benefits”.

But as to how she could possibly know that they all “found jobs last month”? How could she possibly know that?

Those 5,000 could easily have been part of the exodus of New Zealanders moving to Australia,

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Kiwi exodus to Aussie at new high

11:30 AM Wednesday Mar 21, 2012

New Zealanders continued to abandon their home country for Australia, with the speed of annual departures accelerating to a record 53,000 last month.

New Zealand lost a net 39,100 people to Australia in the 12 months ended February 29, 4,100 of whom left in the month of February alone, Statistics New Zealand said today.

That’s the biggest-ever annual net loss to Australia, as just 13,900 people crossed the Tasman to live in New Zealand, though short of the monthly record of 5,000 in February 2001.

People have been quitting New Zealand for Australia for years as they seek higher wages and a better standard of living across the ditch, and in 2008 the National Party won office campaigning on a promise to stem the outflow. ” – Source

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If any one of those 5,000 entered into a relationship or marriage/civil union with a working partner – they are no longer eligible for welfare.

If any of those 5,000 began a part time or seasonal job – they may no longer be eligible for welfare.

If any of those 5,000 went on to ACC; a programme of some description; jail; or died –  they’re no longer eligible for welfare.

Nek bit,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the number of people on that benefit is now at 53,479, which is the lowest March level since 2009.”

When they’re raising welfare as an election issue, National spins the figures high, and quotes all recipients of  state assistance,

More than three quarters of all beneficiaries will be forced to seek work or face cuts to their payments under sweeping recommendations from the Government’s Welfare Working Group…

That would more than double the numbers required to look for work from 133,200 of the 360,000 people presently on a benefit to 277,200. ” – Source

At such times, it suits National’s agenda to “spin” the figures as high as possible and accentuate them in the media.

When it suits their purpose to paint themselves in a good light, they quote low figures, and focus on those. The “spin” is more positive.

Moving along,

Ms Bennett is particularly pleased that 2800 young people who were beneficiaries moved into work last month.”

Let’s give Minister Bennett the benefit of vthe doubt. Let’s assume that every single one of those 2,800 young beneficiaries is now in  paid work. Let’s assume that work is full time, and not a part-time burger-flipper. Let’s assume it’s ‘permanent’ and not seasonal fruit-picking.

What  has the media release not covered?

Answer: it doesn’t state how many young beneficiaries there were to start with. And the figures are tragic,

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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Full Story

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Though undated, Duncan Garner’s blog-entry was written during National’s party conference in August last year.

So in one month, 2,800 young people moved into employment. Let’s hope that those jobs are permanent, because at 2,800 young people per month, it will take National just under two years to move all 58,000 into employment. That’s not counting new school leavers, graduates, young people returning to New Zealand, etc.

Next,

The National Government has shown real leadership with initiatives for youth employment, including the recently announced Job Ops with Training.”

That’s highly arguable. In fact, National has made a fetish out of leaving job creation to the market. Aside from the cycleway, it has created very few new jobs. Quite the opposite, they’ve thrown 2,500 state sector workers onto the unemployment scrap-heap.
As the media story states,

Overall the number of people on benefits fell by 6698 in March to 322, 951.”

And again, there is no way of telling where those 6,698 ended up.  In employment? Gone overseas? Prison? Shifted on to ACC? Entered new relationship? Died? Kidnapped by aliens?
As a point of interest, New Zealand’s ranking of NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) Youth 15-24, is near the OECD average. We are stacked between France and Portugal.
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By contrast, our Scandinavian/Nordic cuzzies are all within the top twelve on the ranking list.

Finland is #9.

We are #19.

I think Gerry Brownlee needs new Spin Doctors. Maybe he could borrow Paula Bennett’s?

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58,000 Youth Unemployed

30 October 2011 3 comments

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= 2008 =

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In July 2008, John Key made these committments to New Zealand voters;

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National wants all young people to have the opportunity and responsibility to better themselves, no matter what their circumstances, abilities, or track record.

We expect that all those under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training. To make this possible, National will provide a universal educational entitlement for all 16- and 17-year-olds.

We know there are plenty of 16- and 17-year-olds who have jobs and are learning from them. We also think there are some who might be more motivated and who might achieve more if they could learn in a non-school setting.

This Youth Guarantee will be different from the education entitlements of the past – because we won’t presume that in the 21st century, school will always be the best place for every young adult to be educated.

Our policy will help a large and potentially productive group of young people make a smoother transition from school into further education.

OUR PRINCIPLES

• Building opportunity for all.
• Encouraging ambition.
• Higher standards in education.

NATIONAL’S PLAN

The Youth Guarantee

National will provide a Youth Guarantee – a universal education entitlement for all 16-and 17- year-olds.

This will allow them to access, free of charge, a programme of educational study towards school-level
qualifications.

Most will continue their education at school, but others might be more motivated and might achieve more if given the opportunity to learn in a non-school setting. They might choose to continue their education at, for example, a polytechnic, a wananga, a private training establishment, or through an apprenticeship.

Courses offered under the Youth Guarantee will have to meet strict quality criteria.

This new entitlement will be on top of, not instead of, the education entitlements young people have now.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds who are not working, and who fail to take up this new entitlement, will not be eligible to receive a benefit.

National estimates these new initiatives will cost $65 million a year.

Source

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= 2011 =

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Since then, New Zealand’s youth unemployment has burgeoned from the 25,000 quoted in John Key’s speech, to over double that:  58,000 young New Zealanders.

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Full Story

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Far from “those under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training“, National has actually scrapped or severely cut back programmes that assisted  young people  into skills training,

Govt cut $146m from skills training, Goff says

Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

Even policies designed to specifically create jobs have been either failures, or undone by other National policies. For example, National promised the following,

” * $5.3 million to encourage developers of cycleway projects to hire 500 young people”

* $2.6 million for extra training places in the defence forces

Source

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Actual results,

Morale slumps as job cuts hit Defence Force

Cycleway jobs fall short

Army shifts $2m contract to China

Since then, National’s policies for unemployed young people consist of, tinkering with youth welfare benefits,

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Full Story

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Amongst National’s  “bold” ideas is,

Anyone aged 16 or 17 on a benefit – other than the invalid benefit – would be also paid in a different way…

… Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettesSource

Which is kinda bizarre, since it is already illegal for retailers to sell cigarettes and alcohol to 16 and 17 years olds.

Another of National’s  “bold” initiatives is to return to youth rates, which Labour abolished in 2008,

Nats propose starting-out youth wage

Election explainer: New Zealand’s minimum and youth wage rates, what’s happened in the past, and why they are an election issue – interest.co.nz

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To some people, introducing a youth rate to give young school leavers and unemployed a chance to get into a job sounds fair and reasonable.

Unfortunately, were it that simple.

A youth rate is counterproductive on several levels.

  1. There is often little difference in productivity between a 19 or 21 year old. So it’s an issue of fair pay for fair work.
  2. A youth rate simply shifts job opportunities from one age bracket to another. There is no net increase in employment.
  3. A youth rate is another driver toward reducing wages in the country – and we already lag far behind Australia.
  4. Employing young people on youth rates certainly won’t mean cheaper “charge out” rates for services (or products)  – employers would simply make a larger profit from lower-paid workers.

Even John Key admitted last August,

While a youth minimum was a factor, the Government didn’t want the public to believe it was the only factor. “Because I think if it’s the only factor someone’s getting employed on, we’re probably getting off on the wrong track here.” Source

It seems obvious that National has no real plan to address our growing youth unemployment. Their reliance on fiddling with youth unemployment is ad hoc tinkering; their plan for a “bene card” is laughable; and their proposed policy to re-introduce youth rates is basically an admission of surrender.

Instead of creating new jobs, National’s plan will simply shift employment from one age group to a younger, cheaper group. It pits one sector of society against another – an all to common tactic in right-wing politics, that values Individualism above Community.

National’s track record on this problem is abundantly clear,

2008: 25,000 unemployed young people

2011: 58,000 unemployed young people

Plus, on top of that, valuable policies designed to train and upskill young people into jobs have been cancelled or suffered funding cutbacks.

The answer is blindingly obvious. We need more jobs – not lower wages for some unemployed. This is not what John Key promised us  in 2008, when he said,

Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, “2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

By National’s own Standards, they have failed to deliver on their promises.

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Additional

Speech by John Key: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Youth rates will not solve youth unemployment

Return of youth wage unlikely – Key

Youth unemployment a growing problem

Nats propose starting-out youth wage

Making young poor won’t help jobless

Editorial: Hiring policy leaves youth vulnerable

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Nats ‘Get Tough on Crime’ – NZ First alleges theft of favourite policy!

26 October 2011 2 comments

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“Getting tough on crime” – that has to be one of the most worn out, cliched “policy” which any Party can announce at Election time,

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Full Story

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I mean, really?

Despite Dear Leader admitting that “the Government’s proposed crackdown on bail will affect only about 50 offenders a year” and “there was already a reverse onus of proof for offenders seeking bail“?

It occurs to me that when a political party is not confident of public support, it will resort to “dog whistle politics“, or scare-mongering populism, to attract votes.

If, as John Key admits, such a policy would affect only a possible 50 offenders per year – it seems an awful lot of effort to be spending on such a small number of people. Especially, when, it is already within Police powers to oppose bail.

Why  spend so much time campaigning on issues of such little substance? If 50 offenders can attract National’s policy-wonks, then surely, 58,000 unemployed young people should be worthy of considerable more attention?

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Full Story

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Or, put another way that we can understand,

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Full Story

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What does National offer as a solution?

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Food stamps for young beneficiaries?! “Clamping down” on youth? “Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes“? (When it’s already illegal for retailers to sell these items to 16 and 17 year olds.)

What about something more constructive, like skills training?

Nope. Can’t have that: National has actually cut $146 million on skills training.

It quickly becomes apparent that National has no real policies or ideas how to address a growing crisis of 58,000 unemployed young people. That seems to have been consigned to the Too Hard Basket.

Instead, National is fixated with 50 offenders. Cost: $4.5 million, to ” be funded out of existing budgets”.

(Which begs the question; how can Government use money to pay for one thing, that has already been committed to pay for something else? Anyone for a game of sleight-of-hand tricks?)

“Getting tough on crime” used to be the policy-of-choice of small parties such as the near-dead ACT, and the zombie-like, refuses-to-stay-dead, New Zealand First. It was their preferred  method of attracting votes from low-information voters, for whom “getting tough on crime” was a panacea for society’s ills.

For National to use this tactic – including on one of their billboards – suggests to me that they are worried about maintaining public support. A recent Horizon poll put National at 36.8% – hardly the 50%-plus that other pollsters give them.

My suspicion is that National’s own private polling has produced similar outcomes. National is more vulnerable than we, the public, realise.

Why else engage in populist issues that are suggestive of vulnerable, small-party,  desperation?

Why indeed.

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It’s a simple matter of choice.

1 September 2011 2 comments

With Labour’s release today, of their youth skills/employment policy, voters are now presented with the clearest choice yet between the two main parties. Aside from the issue of asset sales, where National has announced a programme of part-privatisation, and Labour opposes any/all privatisation, employment policy is the real litmus of both party’s essential core philosopies.

National prefers to step back and allow the “free market” to work it’s magic.

Labour has no hesitation in using the power of the State to address social-economic problems.

The National Business Review – hardly an organ for marxist-leninist groups – was  moved to report on an opinion piece penned by Duncan Garner;

“In a lengthy blog post, Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park, Duncan Garner declares that ‘this government’s biggest failure to date is our young people’.  With 58,000 youth not in work or education, ‘We are at crisis point. 27.6% of those aged 15-24 are out of work and out of luck. It’s even higher for Maori and Pacific youth’. And how has the Government performed on this issue? Garner says ‘there is a yawning gap between Key’s rhetoric and the reality’, and asks, ‘So what did Key do in the weekend to target the problem? Very little’. He suggests that ‘Key needs to be bold, he needs to take risks’.”

Source

In stating that Key had done “very little” to target the problem,  Garner was referring to the Prime Minister’s policy speech at National’s Conference on 13 August.  Indeed, thus far National’s track record at addressing unemployment has consisted of the following;

  • Building a cycleway. Anticipated new jobs: 4,000. Actual new jobs created: 215.  (Source)
  • Hiring an advisor for Finance Minister, Bill English, at $2,000 a day. (Source)
  • A new payment card for 16,17, and some 18 year old beneficiaries that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes; (though it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase these products)
  • … and… that’s it.

Source

It is worth noting the seriousness of youth unemployment in this country. According to the Department of Labour;

“Youth aged 15–19 years have an unemployment rate over three times that of the entire working-age population. Young workers are more vulnerable to downturns in labour market conditions due to their lower skill levels and lesser work experience. The latest official figures show that 17.2% of youth aged 15 to 19 and 8.4% of those aged 20 to 24 years were unemployed, which represents a deterioration of the trends found in the report. Maori and Pacific youth had significantly higher unemployment rates.”

Source

Ducan Garner seems in no mood to respond to John Key’s “smiles and waves” politics when he opens his piece with this caustic observation;

“58,000. This is the crucial number that should be ringing in John Key’s ears every night he bunks down in the refurbished Premier House.

58,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 are not in education, training or work. The majority of them are on a benefit.”

Garner adds,

“Sure the recession has been tough on young people worldwide. 81 million youths are now unemployed around the globe, it was 71 million before the recession. It is a ticking time bomb. In London, it’s already exploded.”

Source

And there we have it:
  1. Problem: growing, lingering unemployment.
  2. Potential disaster: social unrest, exploding into mass-violence.
  3. Solution – ?
To demonstrate how utterly vacuous National’s policy has been to date, let me juxtapose two media reports  outlining policy releases from both Labour and National.  Have a good look at these;

[click to expand]

Labour would cut dole, increase training

National to clamp down on youth beneficiaries

Which offers new jobs, and which offers tinkering with welfare?

At a time when New Zealand has 170,000 unemployed – of which 58,000 are aged 15-24; when we will be needing thousands of skilled tradespeople to re-build a broken city that has endured massive earthquake devastastion; the current government has done next-to-nothing during its three year tenure.

Except create 215 new jobs in building a cycleway; hire some very expensive advisors; and give tax cuts to some very rich people.

In doing so, we do not have the skilled tradespeople required to re-build Christchurch.  Because we are currently losing around 20 skilled tradespeople a day to overseas destinations such as Australia.  At the same time, people are losing their jobs in Christchurch and unemployment is rising.

To show how badly this government has failed, nothing better illustrates that failure than this;

 

 

Only the most die-hard National/ACT supporter will believe this this situation is acceptable. (And they usually come up with all manner of excuses why it is acceptable.) But I suspect – or at least hope – that ordinary New Zealanders who look at this situation and will ask the inevitable hard questions;

  1. Why are we not offering training for unemployed?
  2. Why are we not planning  to put our people to work?
  3. Why are we hiring workers from overseas?
  4. How will this help unemployed New Zealanders to get back into the workforce?

On the 13 of August, at the National Party Conference,  Prime Minister John Key stated,that “the current system “is not working and needs to change“.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about job creation or training for unemployed. He was talking about not letting 16 and 17 year olds buy booze and ciggies.

Goff says it is ”crazy”to have high youth unemployment alongside a growing skills shortage crisis“.

Which one resonates with you?

Postscript;

 

A bouquet  to Hutt Gas and Plumbing Systems Ltd ,  a Lower Hutt company that is one of the many thousands of small businesses in our communities, quietly ‘beavering’ away in the background,  that make  our economy work.

 

 

Hutt Gas & Plumbing featured on TV1’s evening news where Phil Goff released Labour’s youth skills and employment package.

Hutt Gas & Plumbing train several apprentices, giving young people an opportunity to learn a trade; earn a wage; and contribute to their local community.  These folk are the real pillars of our society. Not the big, flash corporations and financial institutions that shuffle bits of paper around, and make their profits on speculation.

These are the small companies that deserve our support and encouragement. They are the ones that some of our children will rely on for jobs’ training to get into a trade.

Kudos to Labour for planning to increase apprenticeships. This is the hard policy planning that will create jobs and give our kids opportunities.

And a bloody big brickbat for Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce, for  saying that Labour’s proposal was just National policy dressed up,

They’re basically doing what the government is already doing, they just want to throw more money at it.”

It’s rather revealing that National thinks that creating jobs for our young people is  “throwing money”.

Because buying 34 new BMW limousines, for National ministers, is not “throwing money”?