Beneficiaries could get sanctions for ignoring Government's apprenticeship scheme

Porirua man Mark Hatton has been desperately looking for work. He hoped the Government's dole for apprenticeship scheme would help, but he doesn't qualify. 

He's on the dole, but dreams of being an electrician and doing an apprenticeship. However Mark is 26, and the scheme is for 18 to 24-year-olds who have been on the dole for at least six months. 

The pilot starts with 150 places, of which 40 have already filled - and 4000 is the end game. 

"We know that it's pretty aspirational," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said. But National MP Paula Bennett says it's "too aspirational". 

Employers who take on an apprentice will be given $9750 - equivalent to a year on the dole. So for an apprentice earning $20/hour, that's $41,600 a year. 

The employer tops up their pay by $31,850. All up, the scheme will cost up to $63 million. That includes shifting funding from the benefit and new funding to support the apprentices. 

Apprentice Paris Ternent James says there are plenty of other advantages to doing them: "You're getting paid to learn on the job - you're not getting a student loan, so that's a massive bonus."

Wellington's Ministry of Plumbing says it will help plug gaps in the industry, but they also believe it should go further. 

Those on the job seeker benefit could face sanctions if they don't accept the apprenticeships WINZ offers them, or if they get sacked. 

Brendan Boyle, chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development, says this "can be the case, but we're not focusing here on sanctions - we're focusing on people who are really willing and able to work".

However not everyone fits the criteria - even if they are willing and able.