Hawke's Bay Today

Bay unemployme­nt slashed by half

Unemployme­nt now 4pc, down from 9.3pc, with focus on getting youngsters into work

- Andrew Ashton reports,

Hawke's Bay's unemployme­nt rate is sitting at just 4 percent, compared with 9.3 percent at the same time last year.

The number of unemployed in Hawke’s Bay has been slashed by more than half in one year, as a focus on getting youngsters working pays dividends.

Statistics New Zealand figures released to Hawke’s Bay Today show the region’s unemployme­nt rate is now just 4 per cent, down from 9.3 per cent at the same time last year. All up, the data represents an extra 4400 people in employment.

It’s the first time Hawke’s Bay’s unemployme­nt rate has been at 4 per cent since the Government changed how it assesses unemployme­nt numbers in 2016.

The national unemployme­nt rate also fell yesterday, down to 3.9 per cent. Gisborne’s rate was slightly higher at 4.7 per cent.

Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said there were still companies with entry-level employment options in the region that were struggling to fill the positions.

But he was delighted to see that the number of people not in employment, education or training (Neets) was down by 900.

“I know the Ministry of Education has a dedicated person working hard to prevent Neets by identifyin­g them early and putting preventati­ve options in place. This is where informatio­n and relationsh­ips pay off,” Walford said.

“I also know there is more work being done to change the perception of orchard work to be more sciencebas­ed (full-time) rather than part-time picking and thinning. This approach seems to be attracting more people.”

Earlier this year the Government announced a $1.7 million funding boost for youth employment programmes in the region.

It provided $460,000 to expand Hastings District Council’s Connector Model programme, which employs specialist­s to build relationsh­ips with employers, local youth and whanau.

And $258,000 went to Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Takatu Youth Mentoring Programme to enable 140 rangatahi to gain driving qualificat­ions.

The Hikoi4Life Trust and Les Hokianga’s WorkFit programme received $765,000 to scale up existing support to get young people physically and mentally fit for work, while $194,000 went to the Developmen­t Hub to provide a work-readiness programme to support 36 young Ma¯ori and Pasifika women, including solo mothers.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson said the results indicated the Government was on the right path. “This coalition Government’s commitment and investment in regional New Zealand is having a major impact on employment, particular­ly in the Waikato, Otago and Gisborne/ Hawke’s Bay,” Jackson said.

“I remain committed to seeing these rates reduce further and part of this will be my ongoing focus on rangatahi who are not earning or learning.”

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