The burgeoning cost of welfare remains a headache for the government for the taxpayers. A large portion of beneficiaries have been on the system since their youth due to a lack of work experience and networking.

There currently are 71,000 New Zealanders between the age of 15-17 years old who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). This great number of young NEETs represent not only future welfare beneficiaries but also wasted talent and abilities.

New Zealand First would like to tackle this issue in the offset. Our Youth Affairs spokesperson Darroch Ball MP has tabled a bill aimed at reducing the number of NEETs by investing in giving them pathways to education and training which eventually leads to employment.

The Youth Education, Training and Employment (YETE) bill aims to tackle this issue by providing a pathway for 15-17 year olds to enter the NZ Defence Force. The roles they will fulfil are non-deployable, non-combat roles with weapons handling only for drill purposes, thus falling under the “limited service” category.

The participating youths will be housed by the Defence Force while learning vocational skills, numeracy and literacy and instilling discipline. Upon completion of the course the participant will earn a qualification thus helping their prospects of finding full-time work.

Youths at the 15-17 years old age bracket require a formal and positive pathway to succeed, this could also veer outside the traditional avenue of formal, “classroom” education. New Zealand First recognizes this need and aims to remedy it with our YETE bill.