Government Acting On Maori Unemployment Labour Criticism Shows Double Standards

  • Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)

"The Maori unemployment rate is unacceptable, but measures are already being taken to try to bring it down," Associate Social Services, Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.

"The problem began under the last Labour Government in the 1980s, when the Maori jobless rate soared from 8 per cent to 20 per cent, and has remained stubbornly high ever since. It is outrageous of Labour to point the finger when their record is so bad.

"Under Labour, the number of Maori people in work fell by 35,000. In contrast, since 1990 the number of Maori working has risen by 30,000. The total is now 136,000, and numbers have also grown recently. Over the December quarter there were 2,000 more Maori in work.

"However too many young Maori people leave school without qualifications or work skills, and that is a major factor in their high unemployment rate.

"Staying at school and gaining qualifications is vital, but the Government has introduced new education programmes aimed specifically at helping Maori youth do better. For unqualified and unemployed adult Maori, we run specialist work training programmes to upskill and get them a foot in the door of the workforce.

That's in addition to many other mainstream employment and training programmes which are open to all jobseekers.

"Research shows that in this target group the characteristics that employers value most are a good attitude, willingness to work, and good appearance and presentation - above practical work experience and qualifications. Those benefits are what Maori gain from employment programmes. Community work is another option, and it is being taken up enthusiastically by many organisations, including marae, and work trusts run by Maori for Maori," Mr McCardle said.