PM launches new employment scheme

By Regan Paranihi

Today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern launched the Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work scheme to give thousands of young people a chance to gain qualifications and employment.

The scheme is designed to help people aged 18-24 who have been on a benefit for six months or more to be employed and encouraged to work towards a level 4 qualification.

Ardern says, "Our young people have so much promise- we're going help them bring that promise to life by giving them the power to get into a job and gain qualifications with our support."

Mana in Mahi will start with a pilot for up to 150 people and will be available for up to as many as 4,000 people from next year.

Ardern says the scheme is all about supporting young people by encouraging them to get off the benefit.

"Mana in Mahi is all about supporting our young people. We'll help them earn an apprenticeship or other qualification so they can get on the pathway to life-long work.  It's a win-win- they get off the benefit and enjoy the dignity of work while encouraging employers to take on apprentices they might otherwise not have trained.”

Minister of Employment Willie Jackson says the government is committed to getting more people employed by creating pathways to gain relevant skills for a better future.

"The current unemployment rate is relatively low at 4.5 percent but there is still work to do for young people.  Eleven percent of 15-24-year-olds are NEETS - Not in Employment, Education or Training - and it's around 15 percent for Maori and Pacific people. That's not good enough," says Jackson.

The programme will be rolled out in phases with the first involving two employer groups and initially about 40 places ready to go in October with 150 places expected to be filled next year.