WELLINGTON, March 1 - The parliamentary undersecretary to the education minister wants to poor performing schools closed down.

"The real failing is in an education system and a welfare system that lets people come out after a decade or so of state education, of $13,000 or $14,000 a year, without basic skills to participate in the workforce," Seymour told RNZ on Wednesday.

He was responding to comments made by Prime Minister Bill English that employers in New Zealand are turning to migrants to fill skills shortage jobs because Kiwis can't pass required drug tests.

"Whether they're on drugs or not is not the issue," Seymour said.

He thinks ministers "quietly" believe closing schools is the way forward.