'Mana in Mahi': Government to pay dole to employers taking on unemployed youth

The Government has announced one of its major flagship policies - an apprenticeship for the dole scheme.

Called Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work, the scheme will apply to young people aged 18 to 24 years who have spent six or more months on a benefit.

It will subsidise the employer to the equivalent of the benefit, with the employer required to top it up to at least the minimum wage. There will be funding for extra pastoral care from $3000 to $6000.

Twelve percent of 15 to 24 year olds were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in May, according to Statistics NZ. It's those young people the scheme will focus on.

It was a Labour Party election policy to "ensure all young people who are able, are in work, training or education". A 'dole for apprenticeships' scheme was part of that plan, but orginal policy would have it apply to young people on a benefit for three or more months, rather than six.

Mana in Mahi will start with a 150 person pilot, expanding to 4000 people next year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it's a win-win for employers and young people.

"We'll help [young people] earn an apprenticeship or other qualification so they can get on the pathway to life-long work... They get off the benefit and enjoy the dignity of work while encouraging employers to take on apprentices they might otherwise not have trained."

Ms Ardern said while the pilot will focus on those who have been on the benefit for more than six months, there's potential for the scheme to expand to those who have been on the benefit for a shorter time, or those at risk of going on the benefit.

But there was something of warning from the head of trades at Manukau Institute of Technology on Thursday morning.

"The Government will need to make sure the system of subsidies aren't exploited, because there will be employers out there, unfortunately, who may use it as an opportunity to get cheap labour," Paul Hollings said on The AM Show.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said MSD will work with youth to find out their aspirations and "match them up" with employers.

The first two employers will be sub-contractors of Downer New Zealand and the Wellington Hospitality Group.


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