Finance Minister Bill English has been criticised for telling the truth – some job seekers are pretty damned hopeless:
Finance Minister Bill English is not backing down from his comments that some Kiwis hunting for work are “pretty damned hopeless” and “can’t read and write properly”.
At a Federated Farmers meeting in Feilding last week English said there was a “cohort of Kiwis now” who couldn’t get a licence because they were illiterate and “don’t look to be employable”.
His comments were directed at “young males” who didn’t turn up to work or didn’t stay on when offered a job. . .
English says those comments were supported by what the Government heard from dozens of New Zealand employers.
“…many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered”.
He said that was a “realistic description of the problems we are dealing with” and if Lees-Galloway couldn’t handle that, then “he is out of touch”. . .
This is indeed a realistic description of the problem.
A few years ago we were trying to employ people from overseas and were told the local WINZ office had job seekers who could do the job.
Our office manager and I went in to the office to see if there was anyone suitable. There wasn’t.
I said to the WINZ staff member that, given there was a shortage of farm workers, people on her books were unlikely to be anyone we’d want to employ. She agreed with me and signed the form enabling us to employ the overseas worker.
The young people the Minister referred to may well have had dreadful upbringings, little or no family support, changed school often, poor literacy and numeracy, no driver’s licence, no work ethic, and/or problems with alcohol and drugs.
That is a significant problem for them and society at large but employers who need someone to do a job safely and well are very unlikely to risk employing them.
What government and its agencies, NGOs and businesses can and ought to do about the problem might be debatable but that this is the problem is not.
The Hansard transcript of the questions and answers shows not only is the government aware of the problem it is doing something about it:
Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by the statements made to a meeting of Federated Farmers that there is “a cohort of Kiwis who now can’t get a licence because they can’t read and write properly and don’t look to be employable—you know, basically, young males” and that a lot of Kiwis available for work are, in his words, “pretty damned hopeless”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I welcomed the presence of the member who strode to the front of the Federated Farmers meeting and sat there showing complete attention to everything I said, for about 20 minutes.
Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by his statement that one of the reasons why immigration is “a bit more permissive” is that, in his words, Kiwis are “pretty damned hopeless”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think the member is mixing a couple of different statements there. I referred to the common—[Interruption] Well, the Government is at the sharp edge of this every day, and I referred to the common response from New Zealand employers that many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered. If the member has not heard that from dozens of New Zealand employers, he is out of touch.
Iain Lees-Galloway: Why, after 8 years of the National Government, has he written off a whole cohort of young men as unemployable because they cannot read or write properly, and what message does it send young New Zealand men that they need to be replaced by migrant workers because, in his words, they are “pretty damned hopeless”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has certainly not written anybody off. In fact, we have poured hundreds of millions into raising the level of educational achievement, job training for young New Zealanders, and individual supervision for every sole parent under the age of 20. Labour left young New Zealanders in such bad shape that even with that investment we still have so much more to do. And if the member cannot handle a realistic description of the problems we are dealing with, then he is out of touch.
Lees-Galloway probably thought he’d land a hit on the Minister.
All he’s done is shown he doesn’t recognise the problem and is out of touch not only with employers but most other people who recognise there is a problem.