Despite a decrease in unemployment, a Māori unionist says the government needs to address the Māori unemployment rate which is still too high.

The unemployment rate is now 4.4%, but for young Māori, the jobless rate is more than 20%.   

The ranks of unemployed are thinning, but CTU Rūnanga Māori Vice President Syd Keepa says to hold off celebrations.

“It's all good that the unemployment rate has gone down, but my concern is the rate for Māori is high. And I think the government should put more energy into that.”

Keepa also says the government needs to also be looking at alternative employment options.

“A lot of our product goes and gets produced overseas like logs being exported to China for them to produce there. I think that we should be looking at stopping that and doing that production here.”

However, Jackson believes part of the solution is for young Māori to pursue work in the trades.

“I maumahara te kaupapa 'Māori trade training', nē? He kaupapa whakahirahira mō mātou. I puta te kōrero a Peeni Henare tērā me ahau, ki aku hoa, kua tae ki te wā pea ki te whakahoki ngā whakaaro o tērā kaupapa.”

And Keepa agrees given that the country is short of 50,000 tradespeople.

“I remember the trade training when a lot of my cousins in those days were tradespeople. They learnt by doing those trades in Wellington or Auckland where they also had accommodation.”

The Employment Minister says there will be an employment strategy announced in the Budget and on Friday he has a youth employment programme he'll be launching in Kaikohe.