While National Party leader John Key, has his heart in the right place, today’s policy announcements on addressing youth crime and educational under-achievement miss the boat.
Educational allowances for 16 to 18 year olds and boot camps for young offenders will simply end up subsidising dodgy educational ventures and giving the army a headache it doesn’t need.
The real answer is to revive what National almost destroyed in the early ’90s-the apprenticeship system.
New Zealand’s apprenticeship system trained some of the world’s best tradesmen for over 100 years.
It gave hundreds of thousands of young men and women a chance for a better future.
It gave them hope, discipline and a trade.
It gave young people an extended period of non parental adult guidance and kept many thousands of at “at risk” youth on the right track.
It gave this country one of the most skilled workforces in the world.
What was it replaced with?
A network of private and public training organisations designed to extract the maximum amount of student loan money out of vulnerable teens in exhange for certificates of dubious value.
A lost generation of kids, either unemployed, working in dead end jobs, or up to their neck in debt with student loans.
It also gave the country a huge skills shortage.
ACT campaigned to revive apprenticeships in 2005, but few were listening to ACT in that election.
Hopefully ACT will campaign on the issue again in 2008.
Please check out this 2005 three part series I wrote on apprenticeships and how to revive them.