Mayors Taskforce For Jobs Annual Workshop
    Christchurch 2005

    report from Jan Francis,
    Executive Officer of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs



  • The largest meeting of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, since its beginning in 2000 was held in Christchurch on 28 Feb/1 March. Thirty three Mayors and three deputies attended the meeting which reaffirmed the Taskforce vision and actions. The meeting was also a chance to hear about successful initiatives from Mayors and practitioners around the country.

    Taskforce Chair Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore, reminded Mayors that their role in the Taskforce was a civic leadership one which advocated for the cultural vision that no young person under the age of 25 would be without education, training or work in our communities. He noted that the Taskforce had foreshadowed the Local Government Act and the requirement for a Long Term Council Community Plan, by working together and taking up the social goal of engagement with our young people. Such work was now a requirement of local government and he urged Mayors to follow the example of the Mayor of New Plymouth Peter Tennent and put the objectives of the Taskforce into their Councils strategic plans.

    He noted that it had been hard work getting government agencies to work in genuine partnership but there were now some examples of this happening. Another area where he felt Mayors could be effective was challenging the competitive nature of the tertiary sector and encouraging greater collaboration. Linking universities with the smaller rural centres, to add value to the agriculture sector, could also encourage people back into the rural areas.


  • Many Mayors had positive stories from their regions such as the Venture Southland projects, New Plymouth, Far North and Manukau cadets, Wairoa youth broker, Porirua co-ordinated approach to employment issues, Christchurch early school leavers project, Grey Youth Trust, Kaikoura business link broker, Dunedin and Central Otago 4trades initiatives, Manukau writers in libraries project, Selwyn and Hutt tracking projects, Hauraki leadership programme development, Waimakariri training academy, Far North Go Kawakawa, and many others. Contact Mayors for full details.

    A number of issues were also raised such as funding for ITO's and industry training, sustainable funding for community projects, immigration policies, growing pressures on local government, "nobodies clients" — young people and long-term unemployed people, skill shortages, growth of sickness beneficiaries, lack of leadership and positive role models. These will be discussed with the appropriate bodies.


  • Vivian Hutchinson — Editor of The Jobs Letter and Community Advisor to the Taskforce gave an inspirational introduction to the second day of the meeting. He reminded people that the Taskforce was a Taskforce for jobs and not unemployment. He outlined three problem areas which needed urgent attention.

    1. Skill shortages. This is the flip-side to unemployment at this time. He encouraged Mayors to think long-term and work for the sustainable future of their communities _ noting that the United States was planning for a 30 year skill and labour shortage which indicates that the global labour market will become even more competitive than it is at present.

    2. Problems with young people. They have been largely missing out on the new jobs which have been created since 1998. Two thirds of these jobs have gone to those 45 and over. This is a structural problem and the huge youth asset is somehow disconnected for out communities. He urged leaders and government agencies to work to "heal the problem" rather than "organising the problem" with a new scheme or programme. Mayors can be the leadership which can articulate the need for change throughout the whole system.

    3. Problems with welfare. There needs to be a deeper debate on welfare, particularly around the issue of poverty. In one in seven households there is noone in work. 30% of our children are living in poverty. The single benefit reform is a management reform not a fundamental reform of the system. The answer to poverty is and has always been good paid work. Full employment is the best welfare policy to have and we need to get back to this.

    Vivian also spoke of the need for fundamental change. Mayors are in a unique position as they have a mandate to speak to the whole of the community _ to see the whole picture and connect the dots, e.g. youth employment is complex and the issues intertwined such as skill shortages, housing issues, transport issues etc. Mayors understand the need for a whole of community approach in which government agencies are one part.

    Youth and job guarantees, (not a scheme or a service), are a vision which will provide fundamental change.


  • Presentations from Mayors and practitioners were given to the meeting by The Far North, Porirua, Otorohanga, and Christchurch.

    The Far North cadetship programme is an initiative by the Northland Mayoral Forum. Partners in the programme are Far North District Council, Kaipara District Council, Whangarei District Council, Northland Regional Council, Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income)and the Tertiary Education Commission. The aim of the programme is to provide young people with a stepping stone towards long-term employment and sustainable careers, through training, personal development and work experience within a Council environment. The programme also aims to promote local government as a viable and exciting career option for young people. The programme is for 12 months and currently has 14 cadets across the Northland Councils who are working towards NZQA credits for the National Certificate in Employment Skills. Tania McInnes the Project Manager stressed that the project takes dedication and commitment but that the rewards are great for both Councils and individuals. Tom Brough, one of the young cadets from the Far North District Council inspired the meeting and showed how effective this programme was and how after being unemployed and doing a number of service jobs, he was now looking at embarking on obtaining qualifications in environmental science at the conclusion of his cadetship. The presentation and further information is available from:

    Tania McInnes
    Far North District Council
    Private Bag 752
    0800 920 029

    Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash and Mandy Natusch (Business Porirua) from Porirua gave an outline of their work with apprenticeships, business education partnerships and their collaborative network. Research in 2002 on youth in the district showed that there was a mismatch between the skills and jobs available. Areas of shortage were in building and construction, health, education, tourism and Information Technology. There was also a lack of co-ordination of the various programmes and projects being undertaken in the area. To address these issues a local employment co-ordination group was formed, partnerships and positive working relationships were established with the Work and Income Regional Commissioner and the local Work and Income office, the Poriura Apprenticeship Trust was set up, school business partnerships were enhanced and a one stop shop opened in the city centre. Porirua are also one of the first five areas to set up a youth transition service. The presentation and further information is available from:

    Mandy Natusch
    Executive Director
    Business Porirua
    PO Box 50-309
    04 237 5590

    Otorohanga Mayor Dale Williams gave a detailed and inspiring presentation of how the town had managed to get a trade training centre and the issues involved with training for the trades and retaining skilled labour in a small town. Local business growth identified a labour shortfall at a time when the Otorohanga District Council was also investing in development and there was an inadequate entry level employee pool. It was clear that the two problems of recruitment and retention needed to be addressed. A Careers Expo was started, local businesses provided careers advisors with resources, young achievers awards were set up, and the idea of a Trades Training Campus was explored. The Campus will begin training this year with the results that local people will be trained locally, specialised courses have been developed to suit the regions needs and there is on-going apprenticeship support. The presentation and further information is available from:

    Dale Williams
    Otorohanga District Council
    PO Box 11
    07 873 8199

    Canterbury Development Corporation outlined their four pronged approach to youth development which includes, a youth transition service (Actionworks), working with at risk youth(Youthworks), youth entrepreneurs (Outside the Square) and a Maori and Pacifica unit(Rapu). Actionworks is a partnership between the Canterbury Development Corporation and Work and Income which provides information, advice and guidance about education, training and work to young people aged 13-19 in Canterbury. Over the last 5 years the service has seen a drop of 60% in the number of 18-19 year olds receiving unemployment benefit and a 89%increase of 18-19year olds participating in training. Youthworks provides intensive case management and long-term post placement support for 16-20year old youth at risk and recidivist offenders. The service also provides career and information and planning for 13 -16 year olds who are in the alternative education system and provides ongoing support to young people who receive or are wishing to apply for early school leaver exemptions (15 year olds). Rapu, kaupapa is to improve access to resources and provide culturally responsive services that enable Maori and Pasifika youth to achieve success in education, training and employment. The goal is to profile students and develop both individual and regional responses to identified needs analysis. Currently this involves retention, transition, leadership and collaboration. Outside the Square provides a range of initiatives aimed at promoting youth enterprise and entrepreneurial activity including an information portal, mapping regional and national initiatives, co-ordination and a youth enterprise cluster. The Canterbury Development Corporation helps young people determine their paths through education, training, work or starting your own business. The presentation and further information is available from:

    Annie Bermingham
    Employment Development Manager
    Canterbury Development Corporation
    193 Cashel Street
    PO Box 2962
    03 3536874


  • Mayors and practitioners participated in facilitated workshops on the practicalities of achieving the Taskforce vision. Feedback from Mayors workshops included:

    — The major role of the Mayor is to act as a catalyst for communication in the region.

    — This communication needs to be between government agencies, schools, community groups etc. The Mayor needs to take leadership to co-ordinate this communication.

    — The Mayor can ensure that government agencies are communicating and working together at the local level as this does not always happen.

    — The Mayor needs to ensure that solutions are applicable to the local community and not a Wellington driven approach.

    — The collective role of Mayors in the Taskforce is to "keep the government honest" and challenge policy directions which don't work in their communities.

    Challenges for Mayors included:

    — how to work effectively with year 7-10 students to promote trades and apprenticeships

    — The need to have longer term funding contracts

    — The need to ensure all players in their communities are talking to one another

    — The need to ensure there is true partnership between local and central government and the community.


  • Feedback from the practitioner's workshop included:

    — Building relationships is really important and although Mayors are supportive in some areas we need to encourage increased engagement on community development and economic development activities.

    — Information about the various projects and general information access is very important _ not everyone is aware of how to access existing information.

    — The suggestion of a youth employment conference with young people participating.

    — The need to raise the profile and promote awareness of the Taskforce and the various MTFJ projects.

    — Ministry of Social Development funding and support has been great.

    — Mayors need more support material and presentation material to take back into their councils so they can present what's happening and inspire support. Councillors are not always aware of what is happening.

    — Cadetship programmes are good and we need to keep promoting these and building on the momentum.

    — Although unemployment is low there are still a large number of young people presenting with increased social and wellbeing issues.

    — Research support is needed for rural areas.


  • The first five youth transition services reported on their progress to date. Most were at the beginning of the implementation stage with the Waitakere service to be launched by the Mayor on March 10. There were a number of key issues experienced by all services:

    Rushed process, restrictive timeframe, poor timing, difficulties with collaborative and tender processes, lack of understanding by government agencies of the nature of partnership with local government and the community. It appears that in most areas there has been some damage to the intersectoral relationships within communities due to the process used to develop and negotiate these first services. It is hoped that this will not be repeated in the next 5 services currently being developed. The areas were however keen to see the services work effectively and to ensure that all aspects of dealing with youth tracking and employment were connected.


  • Celia Lashlie from Nelson spoke of her work with the Connections project in the Nelson/Tasman region. Whilst acknowledging the age range from 15-19 was the target group Celia noted that their experience was showing that the group included those who were much younger even from the age of 10. Nelson is in the process of establishing a database and they have employed a Connections Co-ordinator. The key issue was how to remain flexible and organic in development _ to be prepared to respond to the needs and develop new approaches which are dealing with the problems presenting rather than having to respond to a pre-determined set of required outcomes in government contracts. She expressed concern that she had found it difficult, if not impossible, to find how many young people were in the region needing assistance. The group has come across many blocks to obtaining this information including the privacy act which was being interpreted in restrictive ways. Giving the example of a person who had 22 "support services" working with her, Celia pointed out it was imperative to connect with people if we are to make a real difference in their lives, and to ensure that those services who were working with people shared information and co-ordinated their responses. Celia concluded by remarking that before we could get rid of the silo mentality we had to revisit contestable funding and build trust between organisations to ensure a start to collaboration. In Nelson they were doing this with regular, open agenda two monthly provider forums. She supported other speakers with her call to take risks and build long-term funding for providers.


  • Social Development Minister Hon Steve Maharey addressed the forum and concentrated on the need for a successful transition from school to education, training or work. He noted the massive economic costs of not intervening and the need to provide services which reflect the individual differences of our communities. In answer to a question about long term funding the Minister replied that it was not impossible to do this and that the government was encouraging more of this. The dilemma was often how to match this with the risk factors involved in such arrangements. With regard to working with the younger age group the Minister noted that there was a need to involve education and health in the solutions. Copies of the Minister's presentation are available from:

    Kathleen Lambert
    Private Secretary to Hon Steve Maharey
    Parliament Buildings
    04 471 9495


  • Paul Barker form the Department of Labour outlined the policy response to the youth transition work. He noted that most young people make a successful transition to study or work. However , at any one time 7-8.4%of 15 _ 19 year olds are not in education, training or work and some of this group are highly at risk while others may make poor choices. Poor youth outcomes have high social and economic costs and with the world of work changing rapidly there are many choices to navigate. There are a number of approaches being taken to youth transitions and officials are working on an umbrella brand which will encompass the services which include: youth transition services, designing careers project, modern apprenticeships, Gateway programme, STAR programme, Worksite/PaeMahi and will initially be accessed through a common website. Copies of Paul's presentation are available from:

    Paul Barker
    Department of Labour
    Level 3
    Unysis House
    56 The Terrace
    PO Box 3705
    04 915 4044

    Mike Smith from the Ministry of Social Development gave the Ministry's perspective on youth transition services. The objectives of the services are to: build better local level strategic planning for young people, raise individual, family, whanau and community aspirations for young people and improve the way of meeting the individual needs of young people. This will be delivered by a community planning process, a three year strategic plan, selection of a lead provider and delivery of the service. The delivery will provide school-leaver follow _up and engagement with young people, customised support and guidance, identification and support for the development of appropriate opportunities for young people and a forum for ongoing strategic planning and co-ordination of services for young people.

    He acknowledged that there had been some difficulties with the first 5 services and agreed that the way forward was "to own it, fix it and learn from it". They were making a number of changes around the time-frame, the ability to vary the terms of reference, working in partnerships with local government, community, strategic planning and selection of providers. They were currently working on the need to keep everyone well informed and to look at the on-going governance of the services, the relationship between the lead provider and the Council and the database. Copies of Mike's presentation are available from:

    Mike Smith
    Regional Operations Manager
    Ministry of Social Development
    PO Box 12-136


  • This meeting was every successful with many new Mayors taking the opportunity to access new information and share their ideas for achieving the Taskforce vision, with those who had been involved from the outset. There was a high level of energy and commitment to the Taskforce with Mayors keen to provide local leadership on employment issues. The participation of so many Mayors in the two day workshop augurs well for our future direction.

    Jan Francis
    Executive Officer
    Mayors Taskforce for Jobs
    Ph: 03 3848 212
    Mobile: 0274 529 584