Will Key's State of the Nation stem the flow?
People are to be lured into the construction industry with offers of cash payments of up to $2000 each.
The Prime Minister hopes the turbo-charged apprenticeship scheme will provide skilled workers for the Christchurch rebuild.
John Key unveiled the scheme during his 'State of the Nation' speech in Auckland in front of the politically friendly North Shore set.
“You might be 17 or 18 years of age, thinking about what you want to do. Maybe you wanna be carpenter a builder or a tiler or whatever, because I tell you what, with a $30 billion rebuild in Christchurch and billions of work elsewhere, you're gonna have a job for a long time,” he said.
Mr Key faces 84,000 15-24 year-olds out of work or training, unemployment at a 13-year high and a skills shortage in Christchurch.
So from April 1 an apprentice in the construction industry will get $2000, matched for the employer who also gets $2000. Apprentices in other trades will get a $1000 payout with an employer's matcher of $1000.
But this only applies to the first 10,000 who sign up.
“This is just a little bit round the edges - it's window-dressing,” said Labour leader David Shearer.
The Government estimates the scheme will bring in 14,000 new apprentices over five years.
Will the payout enough to stop someone crossing the ditch?
“Of itself, the money no, but the opportunity can,” says Mr Key.
Housing affordability needs the Government's attention. Mr Key says they will change the Resource Management Act and force councils to free up land.
But politically, the "housing wars" really have broken out. Labour and the Greens are promising to build cheap homes.
“I think the Government's stuck on housing. I don't think they know what to do. Roll up your sleeves. Get stuck in. Build houses. Don't just sit on your hands,” says Mr Shearer.
If Mr Key's Government has two Achille's heels right now, it’s housing affordability and unemployment. He knows he will be judged on both of them. The question for this year and right though to the election is simple - is it enough?