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Turning Ōpōtiki’s Employment Statistics Around – One Job At A Time


Ōpōtiki’s Workforce Development Co-ordinator, Barbara MacLennan knows that Opotiki’s benefit figures don’t make great reading – at the end of January, there were 586 local people on Job Seeker Work Ready benefits, 50% higher than the same time last year, largely due to COVID.

“That is more than 580 people who want, but don’t have work and all the benefits that work brings. It is not just the income but the wider benefits of working, health and wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem, learning new skills and adding value.

“So it is vital to get our local people in work, particularly our rangatahi, who make up a disproportionate number of our unemployed,” Ms MacLennan said.

In Ōpōtiki, people aged 18-29 make up 40% of those on the Job Seeker Work Ready benefit. In addition, there is another group of “hard to count” younger teens who have disengaged from education and training as well.

“The Ōpōtiki News has been full of great stories about industries that are hiring and businesses that are expanding and the mini economic boom that is currently underway in the Eastern Bay.

“We want to make sure that we are making the most of that and help every young person who wants to, find a pathway into training and work that suits them,” Ms MacLennan said.

Ōpōtiki District Council’s Workforce Programme* does this by building strong local partnerships and working relationships among employers, training providers and organisations that support people into work, such as the College, Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board and their extensive network of social services, training and education, and Whakaatu Whanaunga Trust.

“By working together at the local level, we can build on each other’s resources and strengths, and create the right mix of support and training to suit our local businesses and projects.

“It is also great to see all this local growth happening. With that, there seems to be a real willingness of local employers to bring young people in and grow their talent. Some of this is made possible because of targeted government subsidies for wages and training.

“If you are looking at bringing young people into your business, come and talk with us. Thanks to Mayors Taskforce for Jobs funding, we can help with subsidies, training, and information to help our local employers engage more of our under 30s. Local rangatahi are our future industry and community leaders” Ms MacLennan said.

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