Youth job promise by Clutha mayor

Bryan Cadogan
Bryan Cadogan
No-one aged under 24 will be unemployed in Clutha by the end of the year, Mayor Bryan Cadogan says, so confident is he that a new training course is equipping the district's young people for jobs.

Mr Cadogan said there was a job in the district for all unemployed people aged under 24, estimated by Work and Income New Zealand to total 85, if they completed the new Ready, Steady, Work course and passed a drug test.

"These are good kids who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in a situation they don't deserve, brought on by a worldwide recession.

"This programme proves the old stereotypes and labels that society puts on unemployed youth don't fit. Each and every one of these kids wants a job."

A member of the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs programme, Mr Cadogan has been working with five government agencies and community groups to reduce youth unemployment by identifying those needing jobs earlier and helping them become attractive prospects for Clutha employers.

One of these initiatives, the Ready, Steady, Work course, involved a joint approach between the task force and some of Clutha's major employers to run a mentorship programme alongside employment.

Winz Southern regional labour market manager Emma Hamilton said 341 working-age people were receiving unemployment benefits in the Clutha region in September this year, with 85 of those beneficiaries aged between 18 and 24.

Ms Hamilton expected that number to have dropped as seasonal work started to pick up.

"The Ready, Steady, Work course is quite an exciting initiative, and addresses the issues affecting youth by finding ways to reduce youth unemployment," she said.

The course is funded by the Ministry of Social Development, which also provided staff to help run the programme. It incorporates a fitness and healthy eating programme, mentoring, sessions with speakers and tours of local employers.

More than a dozen Clutha employers are taking part, offering jobs in factories, forestry, agriculture, and other sectors.

The course began on November 5 and by December 6, all those completing it would be offered a job.

Mr Cadogan said the programme was going well.

"I'm overwhelmed and delighted with the response we've had from employers. They've seen how dynamic and enthusiastic these kids are.

"It's done the right thing by our young ones and some have already got jobs since starting the course."

The district was underperforming by not filling available jobs, as there were many vacancies across Clutha.

He was confident all those without jobs would be employed.

The Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs was created in 2000, with seven mayors, and now involves 65 out of 67 mayors. It aims to work with government ministers, officials, agencies, community groups and the private sector to reduce youth unemployment and improve youth engagement in the community.

helena.dereus@odt.co.nz