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Mayors Taskforce for Jobs launches nationwide

Carmel Sepuloni Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Huge success of a pilot programme featuring rural mayors connecting youth in their regions with local small businesses has led to it being scaled up around the country.

A collaboration between the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and the Ministry of Social Development, the MTFJ Community Recovery Programme has helped rural councils assist small to medium sized businesses with recruitment, training and subsidies.

This will help them to take on young workers or those who have been displaced due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The programme will provide up to $500,000 per rural council to create a minimum of 50 sustainable employment positions.

The Minister of Social Development, Hon Carmel Sepuloni says it’s great to be extending this programme with confidence, knowing that these partnerships had good success, with the MTFJ well connected to the needs of their own communities.

“This programme is one part of our all-of-government approach, connecting employers and the people looking for work, and with a particular focus on young people not in education, employment or training.

“We know that young people in rural communities may have limited access to skills development – for example getting a driver’s licence to improve their chances of getting a job, and this is something this funding can support.”

The programme focuses on NEETs, an acronym for young people not in education, employment or training.

 At the forefront of redundancies due to COVID, the number of young people under 30 seeking unemployment support has rising from 4.1 per cent to 6.5 per cent, twice as much as those aged 30 to 64 between the months of February and April 2020.

“Young people in rural communities tend to have limited access to services and skill development opportunities, for example, accessing a driver licencing facility, which is a barrier to employment.”

The high cost of youth unemployment impacts the potential contribution to economic growth and development in New Zealand.

Not only do the impacts of youth unemployment result in a loss of income, but also in ‘wage scarring’ which studies show is when a young person experiences unemployment early in life, it reduces their probability of future career prospects and potential earnings later in life.

“The pilot was a real success across the first four councils, and that showed us it could work right across the country,” says MTFJ Chair and Ōtorohanga Mayor Max Baxter.

“Partnering with MSD is a big win for the Taskforce – it’s an endorsement of the work we’re doing and the belief that we have, that mayors can successfully connect youth and businesses. This programme has big net benefits not just for youth, but for our entire country, both socially and economically.”

“This is an exciting new partnership between local and central government that will deliver real benefits to our rural regions in their COVID recovery,” says LGNZ president Dave Cull.

“It is in everybody’s best interest to support young people into employment. When young people succeed, so does the entire country.”

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