‘Mana in Mahi’ - Govt’s new work for dole scheme

By Talisa Kupenga

The government has announced its Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work scheme to get 4,000 young beneficiaries into work and apprenticeships.  However, some within the industry remain sceptical whether it is enough to motivate those being targeted.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Mana in Mahi will help tackle youth unemployment and a shortage of apprentices.

"We'll be targeting 18 to 24-year-olds but we're open to broadening that out and involving older age groups if that demand exists."

The scheme targets NEETS (those not in employment, education or training) who have been on the benefit for six months or more. The pilot starts with 150 spots in its first year.

Government will pay employers the equivalent of the dole, and they will be required to top up pay to at least the minimum wage.  Up to $6,000 additional funding will be available for pastoral care.

Ardern says "It's about giving that first chance, being there if there are any issues in the beginning so that you can see through to the potential that young people have."

Māori and Pasifika make up 15 percent of NEETs but will not be targeted by the scheme.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson says, "No, it's general targeting but in terms of the priority for Māori and Pasifika our officials know of the stats and that work will continue."

Employers will be encouraged to take on youth and help them work towards a Level 4 qualification.  While the industry views this as a positive step, finishing the study could be a challenge for some.

Tascon Operations Manager Dennis Maxwell says, "I don’t know if kids realise that they've got to give four or five years of themselves to achieve level 4."

New apprentice Logan Henry (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Porou) agrees, “They will probably have their ups and downs, I've just started and I've had my ups and downs.  But once you get some jobs and assignments done it makes you a lot happier."

Forty people will start the scheme this October.