Labour hits back at PM English's comments that Kiwis are not applying for jobs due to drugs test requirements

Labour Finance Spokesman Grant Robertson. Photo by Lynn Grieveson for Hive News.

Labour has hit out against Prime Minister Bill English over his comments that some Kiwi workers were not applying for jobs in industries with skills shortages due to requirements for them to undertake drugs tests.

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said the PM’s comments indicated the government had no plan to provide job opportunities in the regions.

He pointed to Labour’s three-year free tertiary education/training policy and a promise to put $200m towards regional development if elected on 23 September. See Labour’s announced policies here.

English yesterday said he was hearing from businesses two-to-three times a week that locals were not applying for certain jobs due to requirements for them to pass a drugs test. In turn, this raised demand for migrant labour, he said following data showing net migration to New Zealand hit another record in the year to January 2016.

Later on Tuesday, the government announced the release of a “new online resource designed to help young people enter the workforce.”

“Getting the job and career you want means having the right attributes and behaviours to accompany your qualifications and educational achievements,” Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith said. “An example of this is the need for resilience in the rapidly changing world of work. Employees need to be able to handle challenges and setbacks in the workplace and seek the support they need to grow.” See more below.

See Robertson’s full comments below:

Bill English’s diversionary tactic of condemning of a generation of Kiwi workers as a bunch of drug-takers cannot hide his government’s failure to create opportunities for decent work, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“In his pathetic defence of his Government’s failing immigration policy, the Prime Minister has managed to condemn a generation of Kiwi workers as druggies. Previously, Bill English has called young workers lazy and hopeless.

“Making it worse, Bill English has admitted his sweeping generalisations are based on anecdotes rather than any evidence or hard facts.

“New Zealanders might get the impression that Bill English is the one on mind altering drugs, given the facts about how National has let down workers and young people over the last eight years.

“There are 140,000 people unemployed in New Zealand, up 37,000 since National took office. There are 90,000 15-24 year olds not in employment, education or training up 27,000 since National took office. Long term unemployed (more than six months) has nearly tripled to 44,000.

“Kiwis are earning less under National. Average ordinary time wages fell in the last quarter, 45 per cent of Kiwis did not get a pay rise last year and, of those that did, 67 per cent got a pay-rise of less than two per cent.

“National has no plan to provide opportunities in our regions. Unemployment rose in the last quarter in Otago, Wellington, Manawatu-Wanganui, Taranaki, Gisborne-Hawkes Bay, Waikato, and Tasman-Nelson-Marlborough-West Coast.

“Labour has a plan. What Labour will also do is help young people into training with our three years free policy, and provide better work opportunities throughout New Zealand.

“Our $200 million regional economic development fund will deliver opportunities for decent work right around New Zealand. We have already announced plans for Dunedin’s IT gaming industry and Gisborne’s timber processing industry under a Labour-led Government, and there will be more to come,” says Grant Robertson.

See the government’s release on its new online resource for helping young people enter the workforce below:

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith and Associate Education Minister Louise Upston have today announced the release of a new online resource designed to help young people enter the workforce.

The Employability Skills Framework clearly sets out the key behaviours, attitudes and personal qualities employers say are essential for getting and keeping a job.

“Getting the job and career you want means having the right attributes and behaviours to accompany your qualifications and educational achievements. An example of this is the need for resilience in the rapidly changing world of work. Employees need to be able to handle challenges and setbacks in the workplace and seek the support they need to grow,” says Mr Goldsmith.

“The framework was designed by representatives from industry, education and government. It outlines the employability skills and competencies that help young people adapt to life in the workforce. It complements the National Curriculum for schools, and has been user-tested with groups of employers, educators and secondary students,” he says.

“This guide will be a great resource that will help young people, their teachers, family and whānau. It will help young people get work-ready,” Ms Upston says.

“The new framework has been developed to complement other resources, such as those Careers NZ makes available on its website to help young people moving from study into the workforce, and the 2017 Occupation Outlook.”

“The new framework is a great example of successful collaboration. The Pathways Advisory Group, which developed the guide, encompasses outlooks and experience from several sectors, and I am grateful to all those who contributed,” Mr Goldsmith says.

More information about the resource and how to use it can be found atwww.youthguarantee.net.nz and www.careers.govt.nz.