Rodney Wayne slams 'young people today' for demanding living wage amid hairdresser shortage

  • 21/11/2023

"I don't understand why they have to get the living wage."  

That's the view on "young people today" of prominent businessman Rodney Wayne, who has launched a scathing attack on the outgoing Government. 

Wayne, the founder of Rodney Wayne Hair Salons, was recently inducted into the Franchise Association's Hall of Fame and reckoned the past few years were the toughest in more than half a century being involved in the industry.  

He told AM his business was plagued by staff shortages and believed New Zealand "stuffed up" its apprenticeship system.   

Wayne said apprentices "demand" the living wage, which reflects the cost of living but differs from the legally required minimum wage.   

"I went through a hairdressing school in Australia, it cost thousands of dollars - if you earn while you learn, I don't understand why they have to get the living wage. 

"Young people today don't want to stay home with mum and dad, they want to go out flatting with their mates and so that, in itself... it's tough."

He also blamed Government messaging at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for some of the shortages.  

"The Government were saying, 'If you don't feel like going to work, don't.' And a young hairdresser living down in Tauranga, the surf would be up - where were they?  

"That was the main trouble for us... that was the message, you guys were saying it and it was on every media," Wayne told AM host Melissa Chan-Green.  

COVID-19 lockdowns were "the most ridiculous two years we've ever had", he said.  

However, staff shortages had started to ease and they'd had people "just walk in the door" in the month since the election, he claimed.  

He was hopeful the incoming Government would fix migration settings to further ease those shortages.

"I'm sure this Government will change it and, it's interesting, it's almost solved itself for us - we've had a lot come back."  

Wayne's comments come despite the outgoing Government still being in power in a caretaker capacity, with National yet to form a coalition with ACT and NZ First.