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With unemployment rising and the number of young Kiwis not in employment, education or training (NEETs) soaring to the highest in almost a decade, the young are doing it harder under the Labour-led Government, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Figures out from Statistics NZ today should be a warning sign to the Government that it needs to do more to ensure young people are in employment, education or training.

“For the first time since 2012, the NEETs rate is above 14 per cent. That represents almost 100,000 young people aged between 15 and 24.

“While the NEETs rate is volatile, Statistics NZ hasn’t measured a bigger quarterly change since their records began in 2004. This is the single biggest number of young New Zealanders out of work or not learning on record.

“These numbers are staggering and New Zealanders will be wondering why the Government is so complacent. If Shane Jones has $3 billion to spray around in his slush fund on programmes to reduce unemployment, he should be using it to help create opportunities for young people in the regions – not more bureaucrats in Wellington.

“This is on the back of last month’s figures showing the number of 18-24-year-olds receiving a benefit has increased by 10 per cent. We know that young people are more likely to stay on benefits for longer if they get stuck in the cycle earlier. This can only mean the Government has given up on young New Zealanders.

“If the Government had kept our Better Public Service targets and continued to measure outcomes like reducing the number of people on main benefits, they would know where to invest taxpayers’ money to get the best outcomes and reduce youth unemployment.

“National wants all New Zealanders to be in the driving seat of their own lives. Young New Zealanders should be given the most encouragement to get into work to avoid a lifetime of benefit dependency.”

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