The Opposition’s anti-immigration policies are based on the view that New Zealanders should come first for jobs.
They do under current policy, if they are ready and willing to work.
But what happens when they’re not?
Whose job is it to make the jobless job-ready?
When unemployment is as low as it is (4.9% in the March quarter), too many of those without jobs don’t have what it takes to take on even low skilled or unskilled jobs.
There are plenty of jobs which don’t require specialised skills but none don’t need people with at least basic numeracy and literacy, who turn up on time ready, willing and able to work, and continue to work willingly and ably for the required number of hours.
Not all businesses have the human and financial resources to deal with people who aren’t work-ready.
The Warehouse’s Red Shirts programme offers unskilled 16 to 24-year-olds the training they need to get a job.
It’s a three-week unpaid programme supported by the Ministry of Social Development.
The Ministry, which chooses who will go on the programme, pays for participants’ shoes and trousers, bought at cost price from The Warehouse.
“At the end of the programme their eyes are sparkling, their posture is up, they are able to hold a conversation with you,” The Warehouse’s Shari French told Newshub.
“It’s incredible, the self-esteem and the growth we see is amazing.” . . .
The programme teaches workplace safety, customer service and confidence.
“It’s absolutely essential we give them that before they turn 20, before they go onto a benefit,” Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Newshub.
So far 250 young people have been through the course, with 70 percent of them getting jobs within three months and 50 of them working at The Warehouse.
The programme will now be rolled out to more Warehouse stores around the country and will take in a further 1000 young people.
Few if any small to medium businesses could do this without putting too much pressure on other staff but the Warehouse is showing that some bigger business could.
It’s also a reminder that sorting out social problems isn’t only up to the government and its agencies.
But it’s not an argument against immigration when too many employers can’t find locals ready, willing and able to work.