The country's largest private sector union has joined Labour in condemning Government inaction over youth unemployment.
‘Almost half the total number of unemployed in this country are young people,' says EPMU national secretary Bill Newson. ‘At the same time National has massively reduced the number of young people in training.'
According to figures quoted by the Labour Party, New Zealanders aged 15-24 now make up 45% of the total number of unemployed. Industry training numbers have dropped by 31,000 or 23% since National took office in 2008.
‘It's hard to escape the fact that this Government is failing our young people,' says Newson. ‘No wonder our young people are leaving for Australia.'
A recent report by the New Zealand Institute called More Ladders, Fewer Snakes says the cost of youth problems, including unemployment, crime, and health and safety issues, is over $900 million every year. According to the report, reducing unemployment is the most important opportunity to reduce youth disadvantage.
The Government's response has been to defend its actions in getting young people off benefits, and to say that jobs are there for those with the right attitude.
‘It's just nonsense to blame those who are out of work,' says Newson. ‘Where are the jobs? Where are the training schemes? For this Government, workers are not a priority, and it's young people who are taking the biggest hit.'