5 Feb 2019

Employment support for Pasifika expands to NZ regions

11:15 am on 5 February 2019

The New Zealand government is expanding employment support for Pacific people living in the regions.

The Labour spokesperson for Pacific Peoples Su'a William Sio.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio. Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

The Pacific Employment Support Scheme is getting a funding boost of roughly $8.8 million.

The scheme has been helping Pasifika youth in Auckland and Hamilton find jobs or training and will be expanded out of the main centres into areas including Manawatu, Hawke's Bay, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Whanganui and Southland.

Career advice, coaching and interview skills will also be extended to include people up to the age of 39 who are not earning or learning.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said with a Pacific unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent compared with 3.9 per cent of the overall population, the government must focus on lifting the number of Pacific people in work to strengthen families through economic wellbeing.

Mr Sio said Pasifika communitites were growing fast in many of the regions and it was vital they got some career pathways, preferably using skills they were passionate about rather than just taking on any job that was available.

"The key to this programme is the pastoral care that will be a deliberate and determined part of the programme and beyond for the 12 months after they are placed in a job or some sort of training."

He said while the ministry would administer it, providers would be put in place in the next few weeks. These people would work with businesses, local government, community organisations and Pacific churches to identify opportunities.

"This is an investment that will help us tackle the challenges of long-term unemployment. Unemployment has plagued Pasifika people for many years... We must improve people's economic wellbeing and that's the goal here."

Mr Sio said the return on investment in Auckland and Hamilton showed that for every dollar the government spent, the return was $10.53. "We want to ensure the same thing is happening in the regions."

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