The Labour-led Government’s flagship programme to help young people off a benefit and into work is letting our most vulnerable youth down, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.
“Of the 247 participants so far, only 168 remained in the Mana in Mahi programme as of 30 June this year. This is a 32 per cent drop-out rate in what the Government had promised would be a path to sustainable, long-term work.
“When I asked Minister Sepuloni about this, she was unconcerned by the fact that the programme was failing almost a third of young people who had been relying on it to improve their lives.
“32 per cent is simply too high. National is aspirational for young people and wants them to experience the opportunities brought by employment.
“Young people on benefits require wrap-around services to get back on their feet. When National was in power, we initiated He Poutama Rangitahi which provided high levels of pastoral care to support young people into their first job ever and re-connected them with education and training, creating opportunities and allowing them to live better lives.
“This Government has already seen a 17 per cent increase in the number of 18 to 24-year-olds on a benefit, so there are now over 27,000 young people on benefit. It is even more critical that work initiatives do allow young people to succeed.
“If the Government has no plan to set targets or make adjustments to the programme as they roll it out to over 2000 more participants, it’s difficult to see how it will give young people the chances they so desperately need.
“It isn’t kind or caring to let young people down.”