Greater focus on getting people into work

The coalition government will refocus employment efforts and the welfare system so that supporting people who can work into jobs is the number one priority, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says.

“Of concern in the labour market statistics released by Stats NZ today was the number of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET), which rose by 3,000 people over the December quarter. The rate for young women also increased to 14 percent, up from 12.5 per cent. Young people are disproportionately impacted by tightening economic conditions.

“It is also worrying that 40,000 people under the age of 25 are currently on a Jobseeker benefit, an increase of 66 per cent compared to six years ago.

“Today’s figures confirm there is plenty of work ahead for the coalition government to repair the damage done by the previous government and restore confidence for businesses to employ more staff, and for more hours.

“Part of our plan is to refocus the welfare system so that it incentivises people to work while providing support to those who need it most.

“The coalition government plans to do this by initially focusing on:

  1. Early interventions to get people into work or training and prevent them from entering the benefit system
  2. Refocusing the benefit system so that it reduces dependency by making sure those who can work are preparing for and finding jobs

“We will intervene early and prioritise people who need the most support to help them find work. We are committed to using an evidence-based approach to understand what works, and for whom.

“We will use community providers and offer a broader range of tools to support jobseekers, giving young job seekers a job coach and a proper plan for addressing what’s holding them back from finding suitable work.

“To realign the welfare system towards employment. We will introduce a new traffic light system for sanctions that will provide clarity on what job seekers need to do to prepare for or find work, and increase consequences to ensure people do their bit.

“This government understands that for those who are able to work, employment is the best way out of hardship. It provides individuals and families with greater independence, choice, and opportunity.”