A mayor lauded for tackling youth employment and getting results told audiences in Taranaki last week how it was achieved.
Otorohanga District Council mayor and chair of the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs Dale Williams spoke at Tu Tama Wahine O Taranaki on Thursday about how Otorohanga managed to consistently achieve the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand since 2006.
On Friday Mr Williams also spoke to a crowd of about 60 at Stratford’s War Memorial hall.
Mr Williams said getting youth into jobs was essential to minimise the impacts New Zealand’s ageing population would have on the economy.
Taranaki was the fourth oldest region in New Zealand with 16 per cent of the population over the age of 65, he said.
In nine years it was estimated there would be more people older than 65 years old than younger, he said.
During his 17 years on council Mr Williams noticed there were large employers in Otorohanga looking for staff and at the same time high numbers of unemployed youth getting into trouble.
Since 2004 Mr Williams has been working with employers, education providers and community groups to reduce youth unemployment while growing Otorohanga’s economy.
“We would only do things if it made a guaranteed difference to young people,” Mr Williams said.
This was largely achieved by establishing a Wintec Otorohanga trade training campus focused on employment by getting Otorohanga businesses on board.
This resulted in skilled labour for Otorohanga businesses and employment for youth, he said.
Of all unemployment in New Zealand, under 25-year-olds made up 32 per cent, he said.
In Otorohanga, registered unemployment for under 25-year-olds was now in single figures, he said.
Nation-wide, across all trades, only 33 per cent of apprentices completed their training within five years while the Otorohanga Wintec campus had an on-time completion success rate of 96 per cent, he said.
“We run employment guarantees with these courses.”
There were now 12 community programmes in Otorohanga designed to get kids into work and keep them there.
In 2005, before youth programmes began, 48 per cent of crime in Otorohanga involved under 25-year-olds.
Within two years it had reduced by 75 per cent, he said.