Town can reach zero youth unemployment, mayor says

There are 25 unemployed young people in Clutha, and Mayor Bryan Cadogan believes the number can be zero.

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 to employers in the Clutha district.

"It is as much a social issue as an unemployment issue.

"If you put structures in place, things will change.

"I honestly believe we can reach zero youth unemployment in Clutha.

"The jobs are out there."

Mr Cadogan said one of the main initiatives involved in the task force was meeting representatives from all industries, and putting structures in place to enable the unemployed to gain skills and find jobs.

He said that while he could not put a figure on exactly how many had been helped into jobs through the programme, Clutha was now down to 25 unemployed young people aged under 24 last month.

"It's a figure we can attack head-on.

"There are jobs here.

"Every kid I've met is a good kid. Given the chance, they would take the job.

"We're giving them the chance."

Mr Cadogan did not know how many young people there were in Clutha aged under 24.

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

Mr Cadogan said one of the next steps was to develop short courses in basic agricultural and industry skills at Telford, with the aim of helping unemployed young people into jobs.

The task force was talking with the former rural polytechnic about the courses, which Mr Cadogan said would give unemployed young people both skills and confidence to take up jobs available in the district.

Clutha also had many seasonal jobs finishing up or ending soon, meaning more young people would be unemployed.

The task force 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.

The Clutha District Council has budgeted $12,600 for the programme in the 2012-13 year for Mr Cadogan's attendance at task force executive meetings, and sponsorship of a young Maori from the Clutha district to take part in the Rangatahi Leadership Programme.

The programme aims to improve the education, employment and training outcomes for young Maori by each mayor selecting one young person to take part.

Dale Williams, the Mayor of Otorohanga and chairman of the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs, visited Balclutha on Wednesday night to share his town's success story.

Mr Williams' visit to Balclutha celebrated one year of a very positive programme in the district, Mr Cadogan said.

- helena.dereus@odt.co.nz