Unemployed youth ‘just having fun’

Darroch Ball, Social Services spokesperson for NZ First, has put out a press releases: Unemployed Youth ‘Just Having Fun’ – Goldsmith

Young New Zealanders who are out of work, and not receiving education or training are just having some fun and just taking some time off, according to the government, says New Zealand First.

“Today the Minister of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment, Paul Goldsmith was not bothered that almost 90,000 young Kiwis are virtually in limbo and appeared to suggest it was a lifestyle choice,” says New Zealand First Social Development Spokesperson Darroch Ball.

“The Minister’s reaction highlights the government’s inability to fully understand the reasons behind a nearly 20 per cent increase in unemployed, disengaged youth under their watch.

“The problem is getting worse under National – a government that believes young people who can’t find work are idle by choice.

“Minister Goldsmith went on to say that, ‘when they are ready to join the workforce they can’.

“With record immigration of 71,000 net, and many taking low skilled jobs, and few chances to learn trade skills, it is little wonder that numbers are the highest since 2011 for 15-19 year olds,” says Mr Ball.

Ball is being somewhat selective with his claims. I presume he is referring to this exchange in Question Time on Thursday.

11. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: Does he stand by the Government’s “social investment” approach when the number of 15- to 19-year-old youth not in employment, education, or training increased in the last quarter by over 3,000 young people to be at its highest level since 2011?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): Yes. The social investment is about tackling some of our most challenging social issues—intervening early to help the most at-risk New Zealanders to lead better lives, become more independent, and cost taxpayers less in the long run. While the member has found one of the few age groups that did not progress in the latest statistics, I would point out to the member that when looking at the rate of young people in the 15 to 24 age bracket not in employment, education, or training in yesterday’s survey, the number actually fell. That means we have 4,000 more young people participating in the economy or building their skills.

Darroch Ball: Bearing in mind Steven Joyce’s earlier answer, does he agree with the Prime Minister’s answer, when asked why increasing numbers of young Kiwis are unemployed, not in education, or training—up 19 percent under National—that “It’s a bit of a puzzle.”?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: Yes, I tend to agree with the Prime Minister. But I think you will find that there are a number of issues for why people are not in employment. The best thing that any Government can do is create the environment for a strong, vibrant economy that is producing jobs. That is what we saw yesterday in the paper, where we saw that 137,000 jobs were created in this economy last year. That is great news for the young people of New Zealand.

Darroch Ball: Does he agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that the “challenge is just finding them.”, admitting that over the last 8 years the National Government has invested in young people it could not even find?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: I think what the Prime Minister was referring to is that a number of people that we classify as “neets”—young people not in education, employment, or training—are just taking some time off. They are young people who are going about spending time looking after family members or having some fun. Like I say, the most important thing that we can do is make sure that there is a strong economy so that when they are ready to join the workforce, they can.

Goldsmith said “But I think you will find that there are a number of issues for why people are not in employment.” And “I think what the Prime Minister was referring to is that a number of people that we classify as “neets”—young people not in education, employment, or training—are just taking some time off.”

So clearly “a number of issues” and only “a number of people that we classify as neets”.

Ball referred to “almost 90,000 young Kiwis are virtually in limbo and appeared to suggest it was a lifestyle choice” but that’s quite misleading.

I don’t think there is any doubt that for some young people being on an unemployment benefit is to an extent at least a lifestyle choice.

This applies especially to young people still living cheaply at home who have never worked since leaving school, who have suddenly started receiving a “work seeker” benefit that is generous compared to pocket money and extracting whatever they can from their parents, and don’t have a pressing need to find employment, especially if it means doing a job they don’t want to do or if it means moving from their location and circle of friends.

It will be difficult to determine how many there are in this category, but there are certainly some young people enjoying a taxpayer funded lifestyle by choice.

Another problem is that some young people have unrealistic expectations about the type of work they want for their entry into the workforce.

Balanced against this is the genuine difficulty many young people have in finding employment for the first time. They are often caught in a catch 22, where employers prefer workers with relevant experience which never employed people can’t get unless they are given a job.

This is why it is necessary to take on any sort of work you can get, no matter how unappealing it might be, to build a work record. It can be easier to get a better job while in employment than getting a first job.


  1. John Schmidt

     /  May 8, 2017

    There definately seems to be something wrong with youth who have chosen not to go to Uni or take up training. I have had sub contractors working for me and the news is always the same they cannot get NZ youth to work for them. They have offerred high wages and still no response one even offers $45 per hour for labouring work and stll nothing. There businesses who are now 100% reliant on highly educated overseas tourists on work visas as their work force. Its just to hard getting young kiwis out of bed and off to work. Go talk to contractors and sub contractors and its the same story. Bill English was on the money in his comments a few months ago.

    • Gezza

       /  May 8, 2017

      40 odd years ago the Department of Labour had an Employment Service. My father worked for them in New Plymouth. His job mostly consisted of referring young unemployed men to employers who had registered vacancies with them. If you were visibly fit & healthy, you took up that job & went to work every day. If you didn’t, or you deliberately pissed about to get the sack, until you were essentially unemployable, your chances of getting an unemployment benefit were slim to nil.

    • Blazer

       /  May 8, 2017

      ‘$45 per hour,still nothing’….yeah…right!!

    • PDB

       /  May 8, 2017

      The downticks for John Schmidt above can only come from people with no idea of the current labour market in this country – I don’t know about $45/hr but I know of plenty of companies offering at the very least the so-called ‘living wage’ up in Auckland and just can’t get anybody to apply.

      The reason I see is that these businesses are looking for people to fill labour-intensive roles and many young kiwis of today just don’t want to do, or are mentally incapable of doing such works. Getting up early and working a decent day at a physical job is for those people just all too much like……hard work. In terms of just filling job vacancies (and ignoring the knock on effects) we could increase the current amount of workers from overseas and still not meet demand.

  2. Complex situation … No simple solutions …

    • Nelly Smickers

       /  May 8, 2017

      An *Orwellian nightmare* Parti…..

      • Well FOUND Nelly!!! Well found!

        How wonderful to be reminded of this excellent little ‘premonition’ of a film … immediately pre-Reaganomics and the neoliberal tsunami … pre-internet … pre-‘enforced existential frustration’ …

        Yes, I do believe it has more-or-less come to pass … Andre is describing the consolidation phases of Inverted Totalitarianism …

        It’s not a dumb idea you know. A simple physical, economic parallel is that only about 15 years after the horrendous experience of WW2 we were clamouring for Volkswagens and starting to drive around in Izuzu Bellets and Toyota Crowns …

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