You only needed to watch the Stags’ against-the-odds victory over Waikato on Saturday to understand the benefits of developing young talent and giving them the skills they need to succeed.

The Government’s new $152 million Youth Opportunities package is set up to do exactly the same.  Under the previous Labour Government, it was too easy for 16 and 17 year olds to get a benefit and do nothing if there were no jobs for them.

Having employable skills and a head start in the workforce is crucial if we are to address the coming skills shortages in Southland.  Thanks to the Southern Institute of Technology’s Zero Fees scheme we already have a head start on other regions.

While unemployment remains high, it is absolutely critical that we provide young people with adequate development opportunities.  If we don’t, we risk diminishing the potential of an entire generation of New Zealanders.