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Taskforce celebrates training

Award recipients at the celebration event for the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

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A graduation ceremony for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs took place last Wednesday night.

About 160 people graduated although only around 45 people were able to attend the event, Masterton District Council said.

Three mayors from around the Wairarapa district attended and presented certificates to participants from their regions.

The taskforce has been running for at least 20 years, and the ceremony is aimed to “celebrate and acknowledge community members who have done further training”, Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said.

The event is a “way to recognise their achievements”.

“Universities have parades, but training and apprenticeships don’t have that,” Patterson said.

The taskforce is “about youth and getting them into employment”.

The taskforce, as to Patterson’s knowledge, was the only thing that all mayors in New Zealand were involved in.

Additionally, South Wairarapa District Council has joined with the Ministry of Social Development through the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs to pilot a recovery programme aimed at employing young people after covid.

The pilot programme resulted in four councils assisting businesses with recruitment, training, guidance and in some cases subsidies, to assist small businesses to take on young workers, the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs said.

“Young workers have been hit hard by the covid crisis, particularly in rural areas, so the pilot has a specific focus on getting rural NEETs [young people not in employment, education or training] into meaningful employment. With deep connections into their communities, rural mayors are well placed to link young people with employers.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen was hopeful that the ministry would continue the initiative given it is achieving their goals at the same time.

“We are able to react quickly and decisively due to being on the ground in our community,” Beijen said.

“Not only does this pilot allow this to happen, but it also allows us to engage with different sectors of the community in a new and cooperative manner.

“We have a one-year funding agreement, with an indication it will be rolled over in 2021.”

The main area that Beijen thought needed ongoing improvement and support was driver licensing, breaking a barrier for people to get into the workforce.

“There are a number of other industries employing, but with skills specific to that industry.”

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs has been “providing a very personalised view of what is needed to get a young person into work. Very little red tape, and a mentoring approach to fitting them in to a position.

“It also recognises the needs of people living in the district, and attempts to accommodate issues not present in urban areas,” this includes distance, farming, transport, seasonal work, and proximity to whanau.

The taskforce has achieved 24 youth placements in South Wairarapa.

Confident graduate comes full circle
Sharon Hume, left, and Raijeli Waqairawai.

One recognised graduate at the ceremony was Sharon Hume.

Hume has had quite a journey in her education, going full circle from her beginnings in 2010 studying a health science technology course, and then moving into a Bachelor of Nursing, Hume is now a lecturer of nursing at Ucol.

Hume “struggled academically” at first in her health science course, but with extra support from her lecturer at the time, Trish Morrison, she was able to achieve her course and move into nursing.

The extra help that Morrison had given to Hume allowed her to “grow in confidence and finish my Bachelor of Nursing”, Hume said.

Now a nursing lecturer at Ucol and working to complete her masters degree at the University of Canterbury, Hume has reaped the benefits of just a little bit of support early on, “all from that little bit of equity Trish gave me”.

Hume thought that it was a “beautiful thing to watch healthcare assistants be awarded,” and was surprised as to just “how much training there is out there in the region”.

The most important part of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs is the ability to grow the future and Wairarapa along with it, Hume said.

Hume sees herself as an example of just how far you can go when someone believes in you, and hopes to pass that on to her own students.

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