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John Key’s right. The student loan scheme is a disaster.

Written By: - Date published: 11:35 am, July 29th, 2010 - 60 comments
Categories: education, labour, national - Tags:

Pity the National Party. Forced to swallow interest free student loans before the election as one of their infamous ‘dead rats’, they’re now reduced in government to periodically whinging about it in the hope that the public will eventually let them have their way.

But John Key’s latest broadside, where he describes the $11 billion of student loan debt as a ‘disaster’, is closer to the mark than most on the left might think. The fact is we can’t just continue to pile on student debt at this rate. As No Right Turn argues:

This is an economic, social, and political timebomb. Economic, because as Key admits, the “debt” cannot be repaid (and therefore won’t be) – meaning that at some stage the government is going have to admit this and confront a large hole in its books. Social, because pervasive indebtedness among our best and brightest is forcing them overseas, to defer having children, and putting the kiwi dream of home ownership out of their reach. And political because those half-million debtors and their worried families are a constituency and a growing one, who will increasingly start agitating for their unrepayable debt to be forgiven. Reimposing interest on student loans won’t change that; instead it will just make matters worse (and as Key admits, result in the de-election of any government which tries).

Labour’s policy of interest free student loans was a humane and practical step to ameliorate the worst aspects of the loan scheme. But like their position on neoliberalism in general, with the loan scheme Labour’s horizons were limited to taking the hard edges off the problem without ever tackling it directly.

The real problem here isn’t who pays off the interest on student debt, it’s that we have a system that causes such debt to be created in the first place. Therefore the solution to the student debt problem isn’t to tighten access to loans or to make students pay more, it’s to stop forcing students to borrow in order to live, and to cut or even abolish tuition fees.

It’s not like we don’t have the money. It’s a simple matter of political priorities. Once again, No Right Turn hits the nail on the head:

The scheme exists because the government in the 90’s chose to underfund education to pay for tax cuts for the rich. And that is why it continues to exist today. In this Budget, the government gave away enough money to fully fund student fees in tax cuts for the rich. Priorities, I guess – John Key would rather continue to force students to borrow to eat than forgo the opportunity to enrich himself and his rich mates.

It’s time Labour moved on from simply defending interest-free student loans as if the policy was the final word from the left on this issue. Let’s admit what we all know and agree that the loan scheme is in fact a disaster. Only then will we be able to start tackling the real cause of the problem.

60 comments on “John Key’s right. The student loan scheme is a disaster.”

  1. ZB 1

    User pays. Farmers whine about not being about to make a living because of all the extra fees they have to pay, consents, now ETS, etc they have to pay. And the governing philosophy behind those fees is user pays, that the tax payers should load up the individual with the top cost and no pay for the benefit to the general population. User pays makes Auckland supercity look very attractive to private business because its excessive costings raise the levies on the rate pay to their maximium. But the problem for National and Labour, is they will then have to start arguing that people do benefit by the lawfulness of others, and so crime must be proportionate to offense (no three strikes), that benefits are not only a finacial payment but also a pyschological payment, a payment for being a law abiding citizen. You see its not just students who have been hammered by stupid neo-liberal practices, user pays and give the savings to the few at the top. Farmers have been shortchanged too, so has every citizen who doesn’t recieve that tax cut bonus. ACT is a rich prick party, National is top heavy with rich pricks, so they both don’t have to listen and accept user pay arguments. Boadband for farmers, no subsidy because of user pays philosophy.

    Uaer pays means high flows of cash, and so turns the lights on speculators who can now see the income stream over to private owners – preferable foriegners. Go figure why NZ has failed to catch Australia, Australia is ruled by people who talk about user pays for them and us, but only demands it of us.

  2. jbanks 2

    As usual. Labour breaks it. National as to clean up the mess.

    • Juan Manuel Santos 2.1

      With all due respect, I don’t think you understood the point of the post. Either that, or your counter-argument is incredibly weak.

      • jbanks 2.1.1

        Oh I got. Just clarifying that Labour isn’t capable of running a successful economy and had they listened to National then we wouldn’t be in this mess. GG Labour.

        • Ari

          Except that National broke it when they underfunded education and made student loans necessary in the first place.

          Did you even read the post?

          • Gosman

            Ummmmm…. when did they underfund education exactly?

            • mcflock

              1990 to 1999.

              Although to be fair Labour started the student loan scheme in the first place.

              • Gosman

                Typical leftist thinking displayed there. Governments have to fund everything regardless of the cost to the country. It is that sort of thinking that caused the recent problems in Greece.

                • mcflock

                  typical tory thinking displayed there – everything funded by government is a cost to the country, regardless of the economic benefits that having, say, a highly trained and educated workforce might have.

                  Or an efficient public transport system.
                  Or high-capacity freight infrastructure.
                  Or increased numbers of overseas tourists.
                  Or cheap and reliable energy.
                  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

              • Sam


                Prior to 1990 students paid a levy to the government which was a sort of part-funding flat fee for all tertiary students. It was about $250 if memory serves, which meant that working over summer would pay for your entire year of uni and a whole lot more.

                Labour hiked up the fees in the ’80s from about $250 to nearly $1000, and then a year or two later hiked it again by about another $250. National education spokesperson Lockwood Smith told students that, if elected, National would not only do away with the hikes, it would trash the fee altogether, as it was totally unfair. What he didn’t mention that the plan was to do away with the fee and allow universities to charge whatever they wanted for whatever they wanted. This was brought in in the first budget and it was the birth of the tertiary system as we know it today.

                National realised that this put education out of reach for basically everyone without loaded parents so the following year they introduced the loan scheme which accrued a staggering amount of interest every year, studying or not. This remained the status quo until 1999/2000 when Labour took interest off during the course of the degree, then in 2005 made them interest free altogether.

                But as this post rightfully points out, when it comes to funding tertiary education it’s basically two sides of the same neoliberal coin.

                (Disclaimer – years and figures might not be quite right as I can’t remember exactly, but they are close enough. I’ll need to look it up again).

                • McFlock

                  yeah my bad – it all blends into one.

                  Although the signed Lockwood Smith pledge to cut fees has a special place in my heart as an example of why politicians have their own corner in hell.

      • burt 2.1.2

        I agree, muppet Cullen said that NZ students would not borrow interest free money to invest – he was wrong about that but he was right about it being popular enough to give labour another term. Short term thinking from self serving govt.

        • aj

          Yes Cullen was right about that and even Stephen Joyce agreed with him. Those who took a student loan and ‘invested’ the money then had to get money from somewhere else for course fees and living costs. E.g parents. This doesn’t suggest to me that either those students or their parents should be running anything involving finance.

  3. Bored 3

    There a real hidden time bomb here, as Eddies article says somewhere “as Key admits, the “debt’ cannot be repaid (and therefore won’t be)”

    Consider a scenario where society and the employing classes have raised the stakes for education by insisting that those “educated” pay for the education. The expectation of those “indebted educated” naturaly becomes they should both recieve a preferential job and a preferential pay level. Now consider an economy that cant meet those demands, but then insists upon repayment. That equates to political, social and economic discontent.

    I smell big trouble ahead.

  4. burt 4

    The scheme exists because the government in the 90′s chose to underfund education to pay for tax cuts for the rich. And that is why it continues to exist today.

    Well that’s the spin to serve the interests of Labour popularity but the reality is quite different. It was introduced to address the inequality of access that we had. Before we had student loans we (NZ) had one of the lowest tertiary participation rates in the developed world and more noticeably NZ Maori had (relatively speaking) no participation at all. You can argue about the merits of the different ways we could pay for education but one thing is for sure, the student loans social policy has vastly improved our countries tertiary participation rate and has gone some way to address the disparity of participation in the various socioeconomic strata of NZ.

    Anti spam: graduates – it knows….

    • Ari 4.1

      We can definitely argue the merits of the different ways to pay. National seems discontent with the way they implemented, so clearly this is an argument we need to have. Let’s pay for it through taxes on unproductive wealth- it’s almost exactly a user pays model anyway.

      • mcflock 4.1.1

        we can also argue as to how much the student loan scheme led to the massification of education, as opposed to funding models which weren’t too concerned with course completeion or student retention rates. Or indeed the shutting down of alternative education strategies, such as apprenticeships, and the subsequent shortages of trades staff.

  5. tc 5

    Innovative thinking can resolve or at least address parts of this by encouraging and rewarding those that stay and contribute rather than bugger off to that ever increasing gap the nat’s promised to bridge…..cheque’s in the mail also apparently.

    Say 10% of your annual salary is notionally forgiven (gifted in Sideshows blind trust world) then were more likely to keep the talent and after they’ve wound down the debt they’ve also set down some roots in NZ and if they leave are likely to return.

    Hodgson was offered this idea and his reply was along the lines of ‘ we like our doctors going overseas as they gain experience…’ yeah pete but they don’t come back Plonker.

  6. Kerry 6

    The problem with a user pays tertiary education is that only the rich can afford an education. You then create a much greater underclass of people with very little in the way of prospects in gaining better paying employment. Even if there are still a loan system for a user pays education system why on earth would someone with is saddled with a massive loan want to stay in New Zealand when they can earn much greater wages overseas, we already see people saddled with massive debts such as Doctors, Vets, etc already doing this. I have an I.T diploma and I know I can walk into a job in Melbourne and earn much more there than I can do here.

    The problem I see is that governments work on a three year cycle so they fail to see long term projects as an investment, if we had truly affordable tertiary education and saw it as an investment into the collective future of New Zealand then I doubt we would have such a problem with our most sought after graduates choosing to ply their trade overseas.

    Since the 80’s the working class has been sold the illusion of the middle class way of life, without things like affordable education this illusion will be shattered.

    • burt 6.1

      Loan or no loan people will always leave the country for better income. If we make education totally free but do not address the low wage nature of NZ society then educated people will still leave, just they won’t have debt.

      • NickS 6.1.1

        There’s also the added issue that many NZ companies involved in R&D don’t typically hire graduates if they don’t have years of prior experience, and if you’re trying to get anything with a plain BSc outside of computer science, it’s a mite on the rather difficult side. And there’s also the question of what’s the aims of tertiary education, as we’ve seen it eroded from being about getting students to think and engage with the world around them, to more seeing university as “job training” and a source of income from research.

  7. There are two main aspects to this problem, and it needs to be treated in that way.

    1. That there is a trend towards increasingly high course failure and drop out rates. Student Loans are not just being created on qualifications regarded in certain sectors as unnecessary, but also to fund course costs, living costs and fees that do not achieve anything.
    – The whole idea of student borrowing to fund their living costs is ridiculous. Students should be paid a realistic living allowance (can be discriminated from region to region like Acc. Supplement). While some employers like the idea of ready student workers, students should be primarily focused on their studies.
    – This while increasing the burden on the state in some respects would decrease the failure rate/wastage rate. This should be the primary focus of the tertiary education sector, as almost all students who are accepted into study should be capable at a minimum of at least passing their courses. Since 75% – 80% of course fees for domestic students are funded by the state any failure is in effect wasted money.
    – Paying them a decent living allowance they don’t have to borrow is one. If they are not prepared to do that, then at least lift the cap on the amount that can be borrowed for such costs per week. Again, academic standards will be lifted and less course fees will be wasted if students primarily focus on their studies, not part time employment.

    2. That top graduates will not stay and use their attained knowledge to contribute to economic development within New Zealand, and those who do stay often do not command sufficient earning power to rapidly repay their debts.
    – A form of bonding, along with course fees levelled on a more nominal (fees for the sake of fees – i.e. high enough to provide financial incentive to pass but not much more) basis could help. There is no problem in my opinion discriminating (within reason) with fees higher for popular sectors, or lower fees for graduates in demand.
    – Key is right about student debt being a significant problem, but National created the mess in the 90s, and Labour effectively washed its hands of it (until 2008), notwithstanding the gratefully received interest-free loans.

    • burt 7.1

      Labour in no way washed their hands of it, they tinkered and tweeked and extracted the most popularity for the elections they could from it. Look at the growth in debt levels, notice the steep increase since the interest was removed…. who would have guessed…..

    • Ari 7.2

      I think discounting tuition for people who pass would be a good move, too. Your points are all very good, and things that need to be addressed, but the framing of this as purely a fiscal issue neglects that debate.

    • burt 7.3

      See: Student Loan Scheme Annual Report

      Most telling is figure 38. Wow who would have guessed that the desire to win one election could have such a high impact on the NZ economy over time.

    • ZB 7.4

      Government discovered that it could give tax cuts by offsetting the cost immediately in increased fees and charges, and borrow from future (where inflation would undermine the borrowed money – so not as much to pay back).

      So Key is inflating our economy by increasing GST! This will help former students and all lousy debtors who over extended and now want their debt addiction solved by National.

      Education has been forced to change to cheap debt and cheap oil times. As the avarice of financiers needed more access to more aspects of the economy to turn someone elses risk (getting a degree) into their profits. Basically education like ever facet of economies in the west has been to invade, collaterize, and disgard debt and risk on to others. And so it begins again! This is not the first or last time that a culture of entitlement (tories) have printed money to look like they were growing the economy and recieve voters consent for it. Cheap debt and cheap oil creates cheap finance and cheap politics.

      So Labour played along to stay competitive, increasely interfering via social policies to help Maori get into debt along with their Pakeha brothers and sisters. Education became a political foot ball and it didn’t matter the standards fell, the teaching became another way to pay lecturers and gain institutional status, why? because many business models would work in the private market since cheap everything, cheap desperate graduates, cheap oil, cheap debt, all pumped the economy into overdrive. Welcome to the headache!

      Graduates are not commodities to be broight and sold, they are people. People who need to mix with people who are in their profession, respected in their profession, who relate the core understanding to the next generation of students and also introduce students to others, network. But now with the utter size of student bodies, unrelated to the profession (because standards across the professional industries have dropped so dramatically over the last thirty years) where cheap and easy let boomers look competent we’ve dumbed down not only education but society as well.

      But its worse! A student graduating in NZ is not going to stay in NZ, he can see the crap in the shops where any premium on a good or service immediately is taken off the shelves or rises in price (because some keen greedy hand is working through new software invisible to all but the consumers). So of course a graduate seeing the crap housing stock, who see the crap employment prospects knows the only way to live in NZ is to have earnt so much money aboard that they can afford to live here! And so they discover the world and realize there are just much better places to live, where there is choice in the shops, where everyone isn’t snatching onto any excess to pocket the profit.

      If we want a NZ for kiwis we have to stop importing the politics of stupid from the UK and US, the stupid neo-liberal crap of ACT and Thacther. Otherwise we will become even more of a half way house of students leaving, of the old retiring, of a few returning, but mostly migrants on their way somewhere else taking the stepping stone into OZ.
      I still don’t see why an NZ student even bothers with the universities here, and just jumps to OZ straight away.
      But Labour came to the party, by making interest free loans available, students were able to buy homes stimulate the property market and get on the ladder earlier. Because it may shame you to know this but if you pounce on the unsuspecting and gouge them you’ve created a relationship with them and so the relationship can turn around to bite.
      As come have pointed out, now we need to provide interest free loans to keep students here! LOL. From a scheme where we were gouging students because they did so well in later careers, now we have a scheme that supports them and we even have Key providing the inflation to do away with their debt. Oh the joys of watch stupid neo-liberalism unwind before our eyes. HAHAHA, you are all stupid pricks get over yourselves and start dumping the ACT.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 7.4.1

        What crap . Buy homes ?? name one!
        The fees are directly paid to the institution, The living costs are doled out in small amounts. Even well off students get by on the smell of an oily rag

        • ZB

          Let see, why does education make students stupid. Student pays rent to landlord for the second year and the students can’t figure out that they are paying for accomadation and profit on the landlords investment. So obviously said students could start a collective and keep that landlords investment for themselves! You see you have a guarenteed borrowing stream for three years! You buy a three bed home, double bunk the rooms, thats six students in a home for three years to cover the mortgage. Geez how frigging hard was that to understand! Geez, students are getting stupid! Look its worse! You see you can then on sell the home to six students and get out of the mortgage with cash! You not only walk away with a zero interest loan debt to the government, but you have that money in your pocket and some (if housing price rises). In the US they are called fraternity dorms! They are owned by the fraternity of all students that have been through the university. Start a fraternity and you can save on your education costs.

  8. comedy 8

    Australia can’t afford free tertiary education – for those who think we can where’s the money going to come from ?

    • Gosman 8.1

      Yeah, the left is big on coming up with new ways and areas to spend our money but not great at actually funding it.

      However I can imagine the answer will be along the lines of “Well all those rich B@stards who are getting a tax cut”


      • Bored 8.1.1

        You might want to consider that a cost is actually being avoided by employers who used to train people via apprenticeships, cadetships etc, and who hired graduates in lesser numbers at a reasonable rate.

        In my book a cost cut is as good as a tax cut…..and having employees indebted makes them more maliable. So who is really getting the real “tax” break?

    • mcflock 8.2

      when are the tories going to stop dick-measuring against Australia?

      I mean seriously, it’s pathetic.

      • Bored 8.2.1

        The measurement you mean?

        • mcflock


          The obvious feelings of inadequacy they’re displaying.
          The size of the budget matters to a degree, but it’s really what you do with it that counts.

  9. johnbrash 9

    We should not be paying for student loans. Student loans are for those people who already have an education, who come from a background which enabled them to reach university. We need to focus on those people who couldn’t get into university. Give them money. Or alternatively make university open ended to help those in society who we have failed to look after. It’s despicable that we look after those elites who go to university, when there are people who have been let down

    • Bored 9.1

      Lots of us went in more open minded days when there were no loans, if we have to pay more taxes to make sure people today can do the same it makes sense, a good investment. There is a concern about what a degree really should be for…..a whole heap of what is now “degreed” used to be NZCerts from the local polytech, and bloody good value too.

      Heres a curve ball….cancel student debt, and reimburse those who have payed theirs already by way of lower tax rates. Off set this with a steeply progressive tax rate for higher earners….

      • Gosman 9.1.1

        This kind of think ignores the changing nature of society and the fact that we can’t afford to pay for the amount of people who now all want a Tertiary qualification.

        • Bored

          The top earners and owners of society have had the wealth trickle up to them for the last twenty five years (as is amply demonstrable) which means we the rest of the people cant (as you say) afford it. BUT THE WEALTHY CAN, theyve had the dosh too easy for too long. Time to cough up, starting with you (nice to be priveleged eh!!!!)

          • jcuknz

            Do we really need all these ex-vasity type in jobs which have no connection with what they studied? Getting on top of those who learnt on the job what is really needed to know.

    • Rosy 9.2

      Not just university students – how about painters, chefs, printers, carpenters, plumbers etc… many these people have (had) student loans too! After the gutting of the apprentice system, at least labour took some notice and restarted apprenticeships, and dropped interest rates so many poorly paid workers who would never pay their loans back – just watch the interest growing the debt, can at least see an end to their debt now. Some balance has been brought back to what I saw as a contract between the state, employers and workers to improve the skills of the country, the business and the worker (well at least the state and the worker are paying – and those enlightened business people who are willing to put workers through apprenticeships).

      • Gosman 9.2.1

        If your continuing education won’t give you a return then don’t take the course. It is quite simple really.

        • Rosy

          Quite simple? Yeah, that’ll work. No skills, no job. And it’s not continuing education, it’s basic work skills that employers, and the country, need. Your plan would be to increase immigration?

        • jcuknz

          The ironical thing about Gosman’s thinking is that he and all of us are paying through the nose for tradesmen becuase of the cutting back on apprenticeships … LOL!

          • Gosman

            Therefore people should be attracted to apprenticeships as the returns at the end are greater.

            Isn’t the market a wonderful thing.

            • McFlock

              The market: demand and *supply*.

              I.e. the supply in this case being employers with incentives to take on apprentices.

              When the govt in the 1990s left it to employers with minimal incentives to train apprentices, numbers plummeted. That’s what we’re paying for now. Or did youthinkit was just a case of 18 year olds going “I want to be an apprentice” and it suddenly is so?

              Funny that you have such a simplistic theory of the economy, yet still managed to forget half of it.

  10. sean14 10

    Labour’s policy of interest free student loans was a humane and practical step to ameliorate the worst aspects of the loan scheme.

    I call bullshit on that statement Eddie. Interest free student loans were a 2005 election bribe.

    • Anthony C 10.1

      I always cringe at the RWNJ view of humanity every action must be motivated by personal gain…

    • Gosman 10.2

      Yes, funny how it came out a Labour Party policy before a closely fought election rather than during their first term in office.

      • infused 10.2.1

        It came out like 2 weeks before we got to vote. It was a last minute attempt to bribe students.

        • Anthony C

          Around the time of an election political parties release “policies” and we decide if these so-called “policies” are agreeable to us and we place our vote accordingly. I think this happens every time we have one?

          Just thought u should know.

          • sean14

            So interest on loans was ok in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 until shortly before the election when removing the interest became a humane and practical step?

            I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale, Anthony. Interested?

            • Anthony C

              Well it was okay for National when they introduced Loans in 1992 and did nothing to help students except saddle them with higher fees and more debt. It was not okay for Labour as they first removed interest while you study in 2000, and added write-off provisions, extending the scheme to cover all loans in 2006.

    • infused 10.3

      Big time. They would have lost without it.

  11. Nothing’s as big a disaster as Chris Carter just at the moment.

  12. tc 12

    Yes carter is a disaster of his own making…..but it’ll all be in the past by 2011 whereas those albatrosses around NACT’s neck will be starting to reek with a supershity odour amongst others.

  13. JJ 13

    Oh please, by and large university graduates are the high earners of the next generation. Better to have a higher student debt and lower taxes (not just lower taxes for the rich…) so that there is some monetary incentive to stay in this country. Our university fees are already low by international standards. Tertiary education fees of the magnitude we have today are not discriminatory against students form lower income families either, as the student loan scheme means they can pay for it later with their increased earnings.

    I love my student loan. I wish it to be as large as is possible. The compulsory fees section provides me with credit to pay for the best investment I will ever make in my entire life – my education. The living costs section gives me a small amount that I can spend in lieu of actually having a job and a larger amount that I hold as term deposit/investments which earns me a slight income.

    The student loan scheme as it standards is ridiculously generous. Sadly the majority of those future high income earners will have used this system, whilst perhaps a small minority of future low income earners will have benefited. Thus it can summarised that the student loan scheme in its current incarnation is a tax on everyone and a subsidy for the future rich.

    Generally people undertaking tertiary education are intelligent enough to understand that this investment will pay off with potentially fantastic returns. Thus it has occurred to me that interest on student loans and higher university fees will not particularly reduce the demand for tertiary education, nor the ability of those from lower income families to access it. However it has occurred to me, and my fellow students too, that going overseas in search of higher disposable incomes may be an intelligent activity.

    Perhaps welfare for students shouldn’t be a priority, and instead retaining them post graduation should be a higher priority. To me student debt is not an issue, as borrowing to invest is never a bad thing if the investment is an intelligent one.

  14. jcuknz 14

    Right from the start I remember being against lending students money to pay for a small part of their education that it covers. We should educate as many as we can afford to and only the best and brightest should get in .. the way most of the senior people in our society did when they went to varsity.
    If instead of loans there was a living allowance there wouldn’t the rorts of students borrowing to invest or buy high priced electronics. Already unfortunately being a tobacco addict when I furthered my education I used to roll my own and then roll the dogs for an extra couple. What I lived on then was just enough to cover my board and some pocket money to cover bus fares and other neccessities.
    No money for beer even though I was over 21yo at the time.
    Biting the bullet and paying to educate our brightest, irrespective whether they came from the affluent or underpriveleged of our society would have saved the whole sorry mess that is ‘student loans’.

  15. Herodotus 15

    We do not allow immigrants to benefit immediately from social welfare payments DPB, unemployment until at least a 2 year stand down period. Yet an overseas student is able to access the student loan scheme literally off the plane and past customs and qualify as Marlyn Street believes that it is OK “She (Marlyn Street) said the proposal may put barriers in the way of new migrants who want to become citizens and who choose to enroll in courses that complement the skill set necessary for New Zealand’s long-term future.
    No wonder I dispair at the ability for pollys to spend PAYE workers money without any consideration at what cost or effort it has taken to earn this.
    Just like retirement this subject will not attract real indepth discussions as both affected parties are major voter groups and to disconnect with either group would contribute to comming 2nd in an election.
    Thank you for the 2005 election bidding war that was only going to result in very forseeable consequences.

  16. KJT 16

    People have short memories. Before the student loan scheme only the children of the rich went to University paid for by the taxes on those who did not. Student loans spread some of the cost. It is easy to get loans repaid. Pay decent wages commensurate with skills and use the same sanctions on defaulters as the private sector.

    The real problem is salaries for educated and skilled people have dropped so much since 1984 (40% in my profession) that it is stupid for any young person to stay in New Zealand. Employers have managed to pass their training costs onto tax payers. (Apprentices are now paid a training allowance and many work for nothing) or onto other countries by bleating to the immigration department they cannot get NZ’rs to do the job. Meaning they can’t get us to work for SFA or they have not trained anyone for 30 years. This will dry up as even Indian and Chinese wages for highly skilled people are starting to exceed ours.

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