Keep dole for over-25s and raise school leaving age – Māori analyst

By Bronson Perich

Analyst Will Workman (Ngāti Kahungunu) wants to raise the school leaving age. He’s adamant that Māori need tertiary qualifications to get good jobs.

To encourage rangatahi to pursue work and education, he believes under 25s should be barred from getting the dole.

“We’ve seen quite a large jump, I think it’s about 20 percent, of Māori beneficiaries on the jobseekers benefit,” Will Workman says.

“That’s a massive jump, we haven’t seen that in the past.”

Possible 70,000 Māori on dole

Workman says there are about 70,000 Māori relying on the jobseekers benefit. He notes that, when the school leaving age was 15, people could leave school and go straight into work or apprenticeships. Then the jobs and apprenticeships for young people disappeared, and the leaving age was changed to 16.

It is Workman’s opinion that to get good jobs, Māori need tertiary education.

“To get a good tertiary education, you’re gonna need NCEA level two from schools,” Workman says.

“Those who do stay a bit little longer, to 17-18 years of age do get those basic qualifications.”

Increasing incomes

He says there’s no point in Māori leaving school to get unskilled work for minimum wage. Working for low wages, instead of getting education, is in Workman’s opinion a major reason that Māori on average, earn less than other ethnicities.

Workman recalled the enormous job losses in the 1980s, saying more Māori would have kept their jobs, if they had had tertiary qualifications.

He posed a question that sums up his views: “Is it really any use for a 16- or 17-year-old rangatahi to leave school with no qualifications?”

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