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    Northland Mayoral Forum

    11 AUGUST 2004


    Long-term employment opportunities are about to become a realistic option for 21 young Northland people currently registered with Work & Income.

    All 21 have been accepted into the first Northland Regional Cadetship programme. The programme, which started this week and will run for 12 months, is designed to provide youth with basic training opportunities within local government that may well lead to sustainable careers and fulltime employment opportunities.

    The initiative for the programme came from the Northland Mayoral Forum which comprises the Mayors and Chief Executives of the Far North, Kaipara and Whangarei District Councils and the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Northland Regional Council.

    It has the support of the Ministry of Social Development through the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs programme, and will operate in partnership with Work & Income and the Tertiary Education Commission. Manukau City and New Plymouth Districts Councils, which run similar programmes, have also provided invaluable support.

    During the first eight weeks the potential cadets are in a classroom environment studying for credits in employment skills, first aid, budgeting and self-assessment skills. For the first intake, 10 are completing their initial studies at Whangarei and 11 at Kaikohe.

    At the conclusion of the initial training period, 14 of the trainees will be selected to become a council cadet and will continue training in an active local government environment. A minimum of six of the cadets will work with the Far North District Council, two with Kaipara District Council and four with Whangarei District Council. Two more will join the Northland Regional Council team for on-going training.

    Those not placed with the councils will have an opportunity for further coaching in an effort to find alternate employment opportunities.

    The 14 cadets already selected for in-house training will have 10 months meaningful employment with the respective councils. While there will be no guarantee of on-going permanent employment, a commitment has been made to individually assist each cadet to locate a suitable position either within local government or in the public arena.

    Should a permanent in-house position become available during the training period, cadets showing interest in the position will be encouraged to apply through each council's normal recruitment process. While each council will be responsible for its own programme, training will need to meet basic criteria set down by the Mayoral Forum.

    Work & Income Regional Commissioner Debbie Power says to be eligible applicants must be under 20 years of age, registered with Work & Income and in need of additional support to find permanent employment.

    Far North Mayor Yvonne Sharp says applicants accepted into the programme had successfully already been through two informal interviews.

    "What we are offering is tangible assistance with a reasonable expectation of long-term employment opportunities- showing these young people that they are a valuable asset to our communities and that they have a lot to contribute."

    Kaipara Mayor Graeme Ramsey says the programme is a great step forward for the Councils of Northland.

    "It shows the value of working together and that local government can lead by example in developing opportunities for the young people of Northland."

    Whangarei Mayor Craig Brown says that in promoting employment opportunities and taking on cadets, the Mayors and Council's of the north were showing the way and setting an example for private enterprise.

    "There are many young people who will benefit from this type of opportunity".

    Peter Jensen, Deputy Chairman of the Northland Regional Council says the innovative programme offers a `win-win' situation for both the Northland cadets and the region's local authorities.

    "Cadets will gain invaluable and practical hands-on experience that will greatly enhance their long-term job prospects, while Councils will hopefully be able to employ young people who, as Northlanders, already have a vested interest in seeing the region move forward successfully in a sustainable manner."

    Whangarei-based training provider People Potential, which has a top record in working with young people, has been commissioned to run the initial eight-week training programmes at Whangarei and Kaikohe.

    "It has been a great team effort so far and it is extremely satisfying to see all of the agencies working together to provide young Northlanders with such an opportunity. The enthusiasm from the young people involved has been overwhelming and they are really committed to their futures. People Potential is delighted to be involved in this initiative," People Potential spokesperson Bronwyn Pratt says.

    Tertiary Education Commission's Northland area manager Carol Barnett says the project demonstrates how the training needs of specific employer groups and youth wanting to fulfil their career aspirations can be met in Northland.

    "TEC is keen to see that the tertiary training offered in Northland gives effect to our regional economic development, so young people can access the employment opportunities available and employers can harness the available talent. This programme is a great example of bringing work _ and the workforce _ together in Northland."