Topic: Employment

Jones calls for 'work for dole' scheme

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones is calling for the government to enact a 'work for the dole' style scheme to get beneficiaries into the job market.

The policy idea appears to have some tentative support from the government, despite differences over wages and enforcement.

Te Kaea sought the views of local youth on the streets of Whangarei.

Shayla Witana says, "I reckon its good!  I also started on the unemployment benefit once upon a time, yeah, and it got me off and now I'm 2IC [second in charge] at Cotton On- so I think its good!

That view is also shared by local businesswoman Michelle Togiavalu, a director of the Blokes Barber Shop, "If Shane wants to pay someone to come in here- what an opportunity!  People don't know what potential they have until they step into a place.  You may be on the dole for years and until you get into a workplace or an opportunity is given to you, well, you don't know.  But great idea Shane!"

Currently, at the proposal stage, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern clarified that if approved by cabinet the scheme will differ to past "work for the dole" programmes because participants will actually get paid at least the minimum wage.

"Ready for work is, of course, what we call it," says Ardern, "What's the difference?  Well, it's basically 'are you gonna pay someone the amount that you get on the dole to do a job?'  We say you should get a wage.  And that is what Shane is also talking about."

Hanatia Hakaraia manages the Cotton On store in Whangarei, "I think its a good idea rather than just having people on the benefit sitting at home, not really getting up to much.  Might as well get skills and get working."

Shayla Witana says, "I don't know if I necessarily agree with them going for a job if they've been working for 60 odd years or whatever.  But for the young, for sure, get them off the streets is better than being on them."

Some time will be needed to work through the details of this social-economic policy.