Survey sparks call to lift youth employment

“The overall number of young people not in employment, education or training is still far too high,” he says. “It is critically important for our schools, families and education and training systems to make this our highest priority.”

O’Reilly joins growing number of business leaders, academics and government agencies battling to ensure young Kiwis develop the best set of skills to gain meaningful employment and help drive New Zealand’s economic growth. 

Unitec CEO Rick Ede recently voiced his concerns of “clear disconnect” that is emerging between business needs and what the education sector is delivering. 

Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Kim Campbell says his 8000 member organisations often report shortages of graduates with hard technical skills and softer “citizenship” skills such as turning up on time, knowing how to dress properly and how to present themselves.

Statistics NZ says the employment rate for 20 to 24-year-olds rose over the year to March 2013. 

“There was also an increase in the number of people aged 15-24 years not in the labour force over the year. Behind this was rise in the number of young people outside the labour force who are studying (up 25,000).” 

Total employment across all age groups rose 1.7 percent in the March quarter with 38,000 more people employed compared with the previous three months. The unemployment rate is down from 6.8 percent to 6.2 percent.

See NZ Management magazine’s May 2013 issue cover story “Is NZ future-ready?” on how new thinking between the tertiary education sector and business may help lift the skills and talent needed to drive New Zealand’s growth. 

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