Bring on youth rates, employers say

Paying young people less would not be the panacea to youth unemployment but it would be a big step in the right direction, the Employers and Manufacturers Association has said.

"It's not going to be the magic bullet but it would be a huge help," EMA employment services manager David Lowe told NBR.

"Teenagers present their own issues."

Mr Lowe said he was not trying to have a go at young people.

"As part of growing into adulthood, you go through that phase.

"But just because a teenager walks through a workplace door does not mean they are immediately transformed into maturity."

If an employer was forced to choose between hiring an older person, who posed less risk to an employer due to the work experience they had accrued, or a younger person without that experience for the same cost, Mr Lowe said the older person would get the job every time.

"They pose less risk, so why would you do anything else?"

Youth rates were one way of encouraging employers to hire young people who did not come equipped with a full set of work-ready skills, he said.

Opponents to youth rates have said they amounted to two different pay rates for effectively doing the same job, an argument that did not wash with Mr Lowe.

"Those [opponents] are the same people who belive in the same rates of pay regardless of how well someone does their job.

"But if you have a person who is a risk in terms of how well they do their job, then why should you pay them the same as someone who posed less risk."

Assertions that all older workers would be severely disadvantaged by the introduction of youth rates were also dismissed by Mr Lowe.

"That's just rubbish.

"You cannot have a workforce entirely made up of 16 and 17 year olds, just as you couldn't have a society made up entirely of accountants.

"It just wouldn't work. You've got to have a balance."

However, some more mature workers would miss out to their younger counterparts if youth rates were introduced, he said.

"Yes, there will be some older people who may be overlooked for a younger person – but that won't happen on a wholesale scale.

"Anyway, isn't that what we're trying to achieve?

"If we're going to do something about the rate of youth unemployment, isn't that somethat that will help?

"Don't we want more [young people] working?"


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7 Comments & Questions

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I'm thinking that we need to not so much have the youth rate competing with older wage earners but more so the dole at $4.50 per hour.
I know someone in MED who works in work placement and one of her answers to "I wouldn't work for less than $12 an hour" is "well your current rate from MED is $4.50..."

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It's well publicised that we have an ageing population and birth rates are down, which is going to cause no end of issues in terms of employment, labour productivity and higher costs when we have more older people in the population than young. Surely getting youth trained, educated and into work to become productive members of society is paramount?

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Some good cheap labour for English to sell on the international circuit to go alongside our low wage economy that he spouted about recently.

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What about moving the minimum wage to $15 per hour?

Lets face it, the large majority of companies that hire at this level are either monopolies and/or dominate players in industry, who can afford it through the more recently received reduced company tax rates.

It is also likely they are overseas owned, and young rates would amount to thing more than increased profits.

If the government want to do anything good, perhaps they should consider subsidising on the job training/apprenticeship. This would be a much better investment, which guarantees upskilling the workforce.

Youth rates will translate into more supermarket jobs at the expense of older workers; who will end up on the dole. This policy has nothing to do with economic development. Rather corporatising profits & socialising losses.

Key better start thinking of something that works, rather than pampering to overseas interests, otherwise he'll be out on his ear.

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Here we go again the employers do not want to pay real world wages to younger workers.
Is it any wonder that the exodus to Australia is increasing every day. This is like stealing candy from babies.

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What annoys me is that they're saying more skilled employees should be paid more than unskilled teenagers. YES, that's TRUE!

So why not pay them MORE than the minimum wage? Seriously, the minimum wage should be for our LEAST skilled workers. If you're not willing to pay more for skilled workers then you're probably the same jackass that'll fire all his older employees to hire cheap young ones if they worked for youth rates.

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Certainly, if those same employers will Guarantee employing more staff as a result, say a 10% increase in their workforce...

Sounds like another chance for business owners to increase their exploitation, to my mind. I have no objection to increasing the current youth rate for 16-17 y.o.'s to 6 mths full time work, but anything more than that is profiteering by age discrimination.

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