Wednesday, January 30, 2008

National leader's speech

John Key's speech aiming to get all young people into work, training or education and off crime is noble.

I do have some reservations about the Fresh Start policy ( perhaps in another post) and could comment extensively about the speech but for this post I want to focus on youth training. The training announcement by Key is grounded in Labour policy like Gateway- but also extends to kids out of school, and funds the private sector to a greater extent with tougher sanctions. I suggest you read the speech.

Under the Youth Guarantee, National will provide a universal, no-cost education entitlement for all 16- and 17-year-olds so they can access school-level educational study at approved institutions. Most will remain at school, but some won't.

Labour has a similar training policy with sanctions - but its policy, in terms of targeting 16-17 year olds into training or work, is restricted to the 3125 regtistered with WINZ - and sanctions aren't applied enough and therefore there is no consequence for non compliance. And they don`t include Polytechs or Wananga.

Independant Youth Beneficiaries do not live with their parents, nor do they receive financial support from anyone. If they are in a training course that course must be less than 12 weeks or they don't qualify. Many criminals of that age live with their parents or are financially supported in other ways - so they are ineligible for the IYB and therefore not exposed to courses available from Work and Income even though they are entitled to be. These people should be registered as job seekers through WINZ and referred to such courses without going on the benefit. Legislation and allows for this such people are turned away by WINZ.

Why? Because Labour is neither enforcing or publicising current policies. National is broadening Labours policy with indications that it will be better implemented and enforced - and hopefully better publicised. Key's policy includes the 8,400 16 and 17 year olds who are not in work, education or training.

That means that most of those who are not in work, education or training are not receiving a benefit, primarily because they live with their parents - or are not sick, invalid or have kids themselves. These kids can enrol as job seekers with WINZ and access training schemes - but they don't - because WINZ doesn`t tell them to.

Some of these kids are so illiterate they cant fill in forms for the WINZ courses - so they need literacy and numeracy skills. There are no real sanctions for WINZ teens who don't turn up to these courses once referred.That's the real issue. It will be interesting to see how National will stop this pattern - and how teens who are currently not at work, training, education or recieving a benefit will be captured.

However, it's a better policy than Labour's - way better. If I had a 16 year old, who didn`t want to go to school, I`d rather he or she went to a Government funded polytech course than a TOPS course or rather than having to pay school fees, uniforms, and donations.

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