From a David Shearer speech:
A striking feature of speaking to Grey Power audiences is that most questions relate to jobs and education – because they are questions about your children and grandchildren.
You know people are leaving New Zealand in record numbers. 53,000 went to Australia last year – it’s never been higher. Email and Skype are great, but nothing beats a hug. And you don’t get many hugs when you live here and your kids are on the other side of the Tasman.
When the National Government came into office promising to be aspirational for New Zealand, they said they could stem the flow of the migrants to Australia and help the underclass.
But all they’ve delivered are books deep in deficit and an economy that has hardly grown in four years.
The old idea that we can compete by paying lower wages – that doesn’t work. Asset sales, selling off our productive farmland, they’re not working either.
So what will grow the jobs, grow our incomes, and keep your grand kids here?
Top Priority – education
My top priority is education, and making sure our kids leave school with great job skills.
I think a lot of people in this room remember the days when you could leave school and get a decent trades job: an apprenticeship that set you up with skills for the workplace.
The deal was – the employer took on a pretty raw recruit, and by the end they got a highly skilled staffer. Somewhere along the line we’ve lost that.
Meanwhile we’re so short of tradespeople in Christchurch the government wants to begin importing workers from the Philippines.
We have 87,000 kids are not in work or in training. What are they doing each day?
If you keep churning out kids like that – it’s not only a waste of talent, it’s a ticking time bomb. Crime. Social failure and family catastrophe. Higher health costs.
These effects hit everyone – even those who have good jobs end up having to pay the taxes to clean up the mess.
Wouldn’t it be great if they’d been offered trades training instead of given a choice of preparing for a degree or dropping out and disappearing?
We propose giving the dole money to an employer to take on an apprentice. The employer gets a subsidy for the apprentice – and the young person gets the training.
And it costs no more than now.
I’m happy if the current government steals the idea, at least it will help our young people.
If we can get far more of our kids succeeding at school and graduating into great jobs where they can flourish, then more of our young New Zealanders are going to stay in this country and see a future for their families here.
I don’t want them heading off to Australia because that’s the only place where they think they can find work.
So that’s where we need to start – creating a new economy starts with modernising our skills, so young New Zealanders are able to enter fascinating, high-paying, higher-skilled jobs.
But it comes back to where we started. Fairness. That original Kiwi social contract.
Knowing we can all rely on super being there when we need it.
Then we can get on with what kiwis do best: innovating, exporting and getting our economy pumping again.