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Only four Māori have been supported into jobs under a government trade training fund for Māori, National's employment spokesman Louise Upston said in a statement Saturday.
"Just four people have been supported into jobs by the Government’s $50 million Māori Trades and Training Fund since June 2020," said Upston.
“Labour isn’t delivering the jobs it promised prior to the election, with its employment ‘action plans’ for Māori, Pasifika, women and Jobseekers still on the drawing board.
“The overrepresentation of Māori on Jobseeker Support makes it especially baffling that a working group will only make recommendations to Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni in July about a Māori Employment Action Plan," she said.
Upston said Māori employment should be a high priority on the government's agenda.
“More than 40 percent of people on Jobseeker Support, who are work-ready, are Māori. The Government’s Māori Employment Action Plan should be a top priority.
“It begs the question: just how serious is the Government about supporting Māori into jobs? Apart from the fact it has had almost four years to get a plan in place, it is disappointing this work has not been fast-tracked given more than 15,000 Māori moved onto Jobseeker Support in the past year alone.
“The delay means more Māori are at greater risk of long-term unemployment. Plans should have been in place to support them during the economic turbulence of the past year."
In a statement provided to Te Ao on Saturday evening, Minister Sepuloni said it was important to point out that the Māori Trades and Training Fund aims to provide work experience and training opportunities for Māori.
"It sits alongside a suite of other work we’re doing to support more Māori into employment, education, or training – including initiatives like Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi. We’ve had 2,500 placements through Mana in Mahi and He Poutama Rangatahi has supported over 2000 rangatahi into employment, education or training.
"Across all our programmes, I’m confident that we’re making steady progress towards supporting better employment outcomes," said Minister Sepuloni.
The Minister said she acknowledged there was more work to do but emphasised that Māori are a priority.
“We’re partnering with Māori on important pieces of policy work, and I’ll soon be receiving recommendations from an independent reference group on the Māori Employment Action Plan. While I’m working to finalise our response by the end of the year, we’re continuing to ensure Māori are prioritised as part of our Government’s economic recovery and rebuild," she said.
"While there has been a gradual increase of Māori exiting main benefits and going into work, I acknowledge that there is still work to do.”