Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the creation of a new skills and employment initiative – Te Ara Mahi (Pathways to Work) – to support workers and employers in regional New Zealand.
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide an investment of up to $82.4 million towards initiatives to boost skills and employments.
“A cornerstone of the PGF is to create jobs, which means ensuring local people have the opportunity to take up work and support the delivery of PGF-funded projects around the country,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“We want to support people to learn the skills needed for local jobs while also helping employers meet their growing labour force needs.
“We will set aside $60 million for programmes in five of the PGF’s surge regions (Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatū-Whanganui), which face particular challenges including high unemployment, low wages and lower productivity compared to the rest of New Zealand. An additional $20 million will be allocated to non-surge regions with the remaining $2.4m to support programme delivery.
“We will be investing in two specific programmes that support Māori and Pasifika – He Poutama Rangatahi and the expansion Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ successful Pacific Employment Support Service. Both programme target rangatahi who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).
“The PGF investment will also support the development of employment hubs to bring government agencies together to respond to specific needs of local employers and potential local workers.
“We’re supporting businesses and employers to access the workforce they need when they need it, and giving them confidence to invest in expanding operations in the regions. This will help to accelerate job creation, leading to sustainable economic growth.
“These hubs will empower communities by bringing people and business together to access the full range of government employment support services, including access to work-readiness courses and training opportunities,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Regional Economic Development Shane Jones joined the Prime Minister and Employment Minister Willie Jackson at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe to make the announcement.
“New Zealand’s economy is growing and unemployment is at its lowest in a decade. Regional New Zealand deserves to share in the economic prosperity of a strong economy, and this funding will equip them with the skills and capability to succeed,” Shane Jones said.
“Through the PGF we are able to amplify our investment in local people, including rangatahi Māori, who feature disproportionately high in NEET statistics.
“We’re also able to scale-up the support available to employers to ensure they are able to take on local people to deliver on local projects.
“The PGF was always intended to improve employment outcomes for people in the regions. By working with people and business, we’re making a real difference in the regions and supporting local communities to thrive,” Shane Jones said.
Notes to editors:
He Poutama Rangatahi will receive $13.2m while the Pacific Employment Support Service will receive $8.8m.
Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated. Some funding may depend on completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.