Local Government New Zealand welcomes the release of the Labour Party’s School Leavers' Toolkit, which includes a promise to introduce driving classes to all high school students.
Noting the importance of a driver licence to perform many jobs and travel reliably to and from work throughout New Zealand, Labour are pledging to provide every student with five hours of professional driving lessons, a defensive driving course, and free testing for their learners and restricted licence, before they leave school.
The lack of a driver licence is a significant barrier for youth seeking employment, which negatively impacts the social and economic viability of communities. Driver licensing issues are particularly acute in rural and provincial areas and those with high deprivation.
Mayors Taskforce for Jobs Chair, Mayor Max Baxter, says it is fantastic to see this issue is being recognised by political parties.
“The Labour Party policy has merit, but it is essential that any licensing programme is structured to ensure the success of all students. Our experience is that providing mentoring and support in addition to the lessons is critical for young drivers,” says Mr Baxter.
The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) has advocated for several years that driver licensing be delivered in schools. MTFJ partnered with Massey University, Connecting for Youth Employment and Central Hawkes Bay College to run the “Steering Aotearoa” pilot which successfully saw 20 high schoolers from diverse backgrounds gain their licence – read the full report here.
Building on the success of the pilot and research put forward by NZIER, the 2017 LGNZ AGM saw overwhelming supporting for a remit calling for Central Government to deliver a free and all-inclusive universal driver licensing programme.
LGNZ President Dave Cull said action from political parties on this important issue was pleasing to see.
“Giving our young people the chance to get a driver licence is a fantastic idea. The evidence shows that getting more of our young people driver licences has both social and economic benefits for young people, employers and their communities,” says Mr Cull.