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A new training course equipping the Clutha district's young people for jobs finished yesterday and participants are now preparing for jobs.
The Ready, Steady, Work course is headed by Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who spent the past two years finding agencies and groups willing to take part in the project.
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.
The Ready, Steady, Work course involved a joint approach between the task force and some of the Clutha region's major employers to co-operatively run a mentoring programme alongside participants' employment.
According to Work and Income New Zealand, in September there were 85 unemployed people in the district aged 18 to 24, many of whom had gone through the course.
"This is the culmination of technically two years of work. I couldn't have asked for more from the government departments - MSD [Ministry of Social Development] were the ones who, in the beginning, had to believe. And they did believe."
The course is funded by the MSD, which provided staff to help run it. It incorporated a fitness and healthy eating programme, mentoring, sessions with speakers and tours of local employers.
The course began on November 5 and aims to have all participants in jobs by December 6.
The group spent the last three days of the course at Telford, staying at the hostel, taking part in fitness exercises, and learning a variety of farming skills from welding to milking and shearing.
At a presentation marking the end of the course yesterday, Mr Cadogan thanked the programme's many supporters.
"A third of you already have jobs, and we're confident the rest will be in jobs only a few days after our goal," Mr Cadogan told participants.
"You've earned our respect, you deserve our respect, and we couldn't have asked for more."
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.