Labour to teach high school kids how to drive

Labour wants to provide high school students with free driver training, alongside financial and civics courses. Photo: Getty

With media attention focused on the Government’s decision to relaunch their boot camp programme, Labour have dropped an education policy aimed at upskilling teenagers.

The “School Leavers’ Toolkit” will include driver education and training, financial literacy and budgeting, and civics training.

Careers advice will also be bolstered, with trained staff in every high school providing the service. The party announced a similar policy in 2015.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Bill English announced the introduction of a Young Serious Offender classification allowing judges to send young people who commit serious offences to a military academy for a year.

It was estimated about 50 youth offenders would be sent to the academy each year.

The move was left with derision from the left, with many calling it a cheap election bribe.

Despite having tried similar boot camp systems in the past, English said the intensive wrap-around system had not been tried before.

Labour’s school leaver skills announcement comes out of the party’s Future of Work Commission.

It found young people needed better practical skills when leaving school, something businesses were demanding.

The skills package, which will cost up to $50 million a year, will include five hours of driving lessons, a defensive driving course, and free learners’ and restricted licence tests, for every student.

Financial literacy and budgeting courses will be available at all secondary schools and will include instruction on things like tenancy agreements, credit cards, and KiwiSaver.

To combat low voting rates among young people, civics courses about how government and society functions will be introduced.

The Electoral Commission will be part of the curriculum to teach young people about how important it is to participate.

Alongside the package, $30m a year will be spent bolstering careers staff and ensuring every student has a personalised career plan.

Funding for the initiatives will come from the additional $4 billion Labour has committed to spend on education if elected.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said every secondary school would be resourced to provide the courses.

“Having a driving licence so you can get to work, knowing how to fit into a workplace, knowing how to manage your money, and knowing how to take your place in the community – these are all important skills in adult life, and we need to do more to ensure our young people are equipped with them.”