A Canterbury driver mentoring initiative is getting a $2 million boost from the government so it can expand within the region and into the West Coast.
The Salvation Army program is the latest recipient of Provincial Growth Fund money and will be offering the courses in Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport.
The programme offers 12-week courses to help people get their restricted licence and eight-week course to help get their full licence - with an 80 percent completion rate, and 60 percent of participants carrying on to find employment.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, said the initiative could help young people get jobs by removing a known barrier.
He said having a driver's licence also improved road safety, reduced re-offending through driving related offences, and reduced the isolation of living in remote areas.
The programme targets young parents, youth without parental support, sole parents, at risk young people, and migrants.
Mr Tabuteau said it also provides ongoing pastoral care to participants beyond both courses to assist them into sustainable employment.
"We know employment improves well-being and strengthens families and communities, and with this in mind, the hub run by the Salvation Army has a significant focus on sustainable employment outcomes for participants through working with mentors," he said.
At the announcement at the Buller District Council Chambers this afternoon, Mr Tabuteau also revealed a $100,000 plan to explore whether the Westport and Greymouth ports could be put under one ownership and governance structure.
The funding comes from the Provincial Growth Fund, at the recommendation of an independent report.
"The work undertaken will include a cost-benefit analysis of joint versus separate ownership, the existing and likely purpose of each port in the future, and advice on how best the ports can meet the needs of the West Coast region," Mr Tabuteau said.