4 Feb 2019

Provincial Growth Fund: $82.4m for regional youth employment

9:37 am on 4 February 2019

The government has announced more than $80 million to help unemployed young people in the regions get into work.

Unemployment has remained above 8 percent in provinces such as Northland, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa.

Unemployment has remained above 8 percent in provinces such as Northland, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa. Photo: RNZ

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the initiative this morning, with the money coming from the provincial growth fund.

Te Ara Mahi (Pathways to Work) is aimed at easing the pressures on employers in areas where it's hard to find staff.

Two programmes aimed at supporting Māori and Pasifika who are not employed or studying (NEET) will also see an investment - He Poutama Rangatahi will receive $13.2m and $8.8 million will go towards the expansion Ministry for Pacific Peoples' successful Pacific Employment Support Service.

"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," Ms Ardern said.

Sixty million dollars will be for the regions identified as surge areas - Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay and Manawatū-Whanganui.

Ms Ardern said these regions face particular challenges compared to the rest of New Zealand, including high unemployment, low wages and lower productivity.

"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," said Ms Ardern.

"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."

The Prime Minister was joined by Regional Economic Development Shane Jones joined and Employment Minister Willie Jackson at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe.

Mr Jones said the Provincial Growth Fund allows the government to increase the investment in locals, including rangatahi Māori, who feature disproportionately high in NEET statistics.

"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."

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