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Opinion Raymond Huo

Focusing on jobs key for progress

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• Howick and Botany Times

READING Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross’ column, I must congratulate him on his efforts to defend the most indefensible (Times, October 17).

Contrary to his claim that the “reality of progress is starting to unfold”, the National-Act Government’s plans in job creation and economic development are the worst in New Zealand’s recent history.

While he claims there are now 60,000 more Kiwis with jobs, in fact, we’ve seen 40,000 jobs lost in just the manufacturing sector since 2008, when National came to power.

Needless to say the unemployment rate under Labour was 4 four per cent, now it’s 6.8 per cent.

And for Asians, the unemployment rate is 8.5 per cent.

This Government won’t go into bat for our exporters and manufacturers, but Labour will, because we know Kiwis need a strong manufacturing sector to create good jobs that pay a decent wage. We’ll work with industry and provide the right policies to get manufacturing moving.

Mr Ross goes on to suggest the Government’s job is “to create a setting where businesses have the confidence to invest in the workforce”.

If that’s the case, then how can he explain why MoBIE job ads from October confirm a 4.5 per cent crash in job ads from the previous month, and what’s particularly concerning in these figures is the disproportionate decline in ads for high-value jobs.

Remember how the Prime Minister, before he was elected, said he was going to stop the equivalent of a Westpac Stadium crowd going to Australia every year?

This lack of opportunity is now forcing about 1000 of our best and brightest each week to cross the Tasman, with no sign of reversal. Already around 170,000 have left since National took office.

Labour leader David Shearer recently asked John Key why he hadn’t acted on the 2009 Jobs Summit recommendation to require businesses that win government contracts to take on apprentices.

He had no answer.

He then asked why just $7 million of $42m set aside to train Kiwis with the skills needed for the Christchurch rebuild had been used. Again, no answer.

That’s disappointing and it’s something Labour isn’t prepared to settle for.

Labour wants to up-skill our workforce and encourage tradespeople and technicians who’ve left for Australia to come home for the Christchurch rebuild.

We’ll do all we can to up-skill our workforce. That will include giving the dole payment to employers to subsidise these kids into apprenticeships and training.

With 84,000 young people not in work or education, this has to be a priority.

Labour has a vision for a clean, green, clever economy. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly clear that National’s vision is blurred, backwards and less than smart.