Ardern vis­its Toko­roa’s Kin­leith Mill

South Waikato News - - Out & About - LUKE KIRKEBY

The election race heated up briefly in Toko­roa last week as Labour leader Jacinda Adern and sit­ting Taupo¯ MP Louise Up­ston clashed over pol­icy dif­fer­ences.

Train­ing and job op­por­tu­ni­ties were hot top­ics when Ardern vis­ited Toko­roa’s Kin­leith Mill on Wed­nes­day.

‘‘The fact that we are talk­ing here [at Kin­leith] about not hav­ing enough fit­ters and turn­ers com­ing through to take on roles that ex­ist says to me that we could be do­ing much bet­ter,’’ Ardern said.

‘‘We have got 70,000 young peo­ple who are not in em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, or train­ing. There are some real skills gaps we have that we could be fill­ing.’’

‘‘That starts with us lift­ing the pro­file of those roles. We want to do that in schools and we have an­nounced the Prime Min­is­ter’s Vo­ca­tion Ex­cel­lence Awards where in ev­ery sec­ondary school we will give a prize of $2000 to lift the value of vo­ca­tion train­ing of trades,’’ she said.

Ardern also spoke about her dis­like of Na­tional’s plan to im­pose tougher sanc­tions on ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

That fol­lowed Na­tional’s an­nounce­ment that if re-elected it will take half or all of job­seek­ers’ ben­e­fits off them if they fail to meet drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, work ex­pe­ri­ence or train­ing obli­ga­tions.

Ta¯ upo elec­torate Na­tional MP Louise Up­ston, who was in town the fol­low­ing day to present awards for Adult Learn­ing Week, de­fended the plans.

She said Na­tional was work­ing hard to con­nect young peo­ple with em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and was pledg­ing $72 mil­lion over four years, $18m a year, to put in place pro­grammes aimed at get­ting ben­e­fi­cia­ries, par­tic­u­larly those un­der 25, off drugs and into work.

That in­cludes guar­an­teed work ex­pe­ri­ence or train­ing for those who had been on a job­seeker’s ben­e­fit for six months or longer, and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment train­ing.

‘‘It is about say­ing ac­tu­ally we want to sup­port you and sup­port your fu­ture. If drug and al­co­hol is­sues are one of the bar­ri­ers to you be­ing em­ployed then we want to help you sort that out,’’ she said.

‘‘We just want to make sure young peo­ple are con­nected with op­por­tu­ni­ties so we are ab­so­lutely in­vest­ing fund­ing [to com­bat] things that are get­ting in the way.’’

Kin­leith Mill selfie

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