MP Bill English asked if she could confirm that there had been 245,000 jobs created in the past two years and what specific type of “quality jobs” she envisioned New Zealanders to have.
Ardern however mentioned that the unemployment rate in Gisborne had increased to 8.8% and the number of “neets” – young people who are not in employment, education or training – had risen by 4,000 in the past two years.
“We can do better than that,” she said.
Opportunities in Gisborne, she said, were in the wood processing and forestry industries among others, belying English’s claim that “planting trees on Tuesdays and Fridays at the minimum wage is the kind of quality job she wants to create.
English also asked whether full-time jobs on a living wage are still on the table, as the public has been led to believe, and hinted the PM is happy “with the current policy to create part time jobs on the minimum wage."
“There are full-time job opportunities in the forestry industry,” she said. “The Member well knows that."
According to Ardern, the Minister for Regional Economic Development has a clear ambition for job creation, focusing on rangatahi and young people, particularly in Northland, in the Bay of Plenty, and in the East Coast.
There will also be investments in education and training with a fees-free policy.
“It's about investing in young people so that they're able to take up those jobs—not diminishing their motivation or their ability to do a job,” she said.
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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern affirmed the government’s ambition to increase employment for young people and for those in the regions, amid questioning by an opposition leader.