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Government invests $2.2 million into BOP

Willie Jackson, pictured here, and Shane Jones made the announcement in Kawerau today. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly.

The Provincial Growth Fund is investing in three programmes to help unemployed people into future jobs generated by economic growth in the Bay of Plenty.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson made the announcements – worth more than $2.2 million – today in Kawerau.

The funding will go towards three skills and education programmes which will collectively support about 200 people a year.

The programmes will receive funding from He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) and Te Ara Mahi (TAM) initiatives, funded through the PGF.

The 3 programmes are:

· Kawerau Pathways to Work, delivered by Industrial Symbiosis Kawerau and Tūwharetoa Ki Kawerau Health, Education and Social Services - $969,000 combined funding from HPR and TAM.

· Eastern Bay of Plenty Driver and Operator Training Centre, delivered by Toi EDA – $598,000 funding from HPR.

· School of Hard Knocks – $713,740 from HPR delivered by Social Good Limited.

“The three initiatives predominately target young people not currently in employment, education and training, and who are most at risk of long-term unemployment,” says Shane Jones.

“In the Bay of Plenty, that is just under 20 per cent of young people aged between 16 and 24.

“We’re committed to reducing youth unemployment and helping young people who need extra support to develop the skills they need to get them into work.

Shane says the programmes they’ve announced today also help address the future employment needs of the region.

“Two of the initiatives build on the PGF’s existing $2m investment in the Kawerau-Putauaki Industrial Hub, which underpins a number of promising commercial investments in Kawerau that are expected to bring around 500 jobs to the regions in the next five years.

“Kawerau Pathways to Work and the Driver and Operator Training Centre will help transition school leavers into work and industry-based cadetships, provide a work-ready programme, as well as post-placement pastoral care for employees and employers."

Willie Jackson says the programmes will connect rangatahi with local employers and increase their awareness of local industries.

“We’re investing in programmes that will get local people ready for local jobs,” says Willie Jackson.

“Toi EDA will establish a commercial and operator training centre in Kawerau to help address a local and nationwide shortage of qualified commercial drivers. Up to 100 people from across the Bay of Plenty will be targeted to go through the training centre each year and this will include older, long-term, or under-employed people.

“The third programme is delivered by the well-known School of Hard Knocks, which uses sports to address barriers to employment and education and helps young people take positive steps in their lives.

“The School of Hard Knocks has a stellar track record with a 68 per cent success rate or getting young people into work. Challenging physical education-based courses have been shown to have great success with rangatahi who feel excluded from regular education institutions.

“Collaborating with and supporting provincial communities to boost their economic growth and improve social outcomes of local people is what the PGF is about."

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