Mayors taskforce for Jobs – Jobs in Central Hawke’s Bay

2020 was tough on the Central Hawke’s Bay community. Covid — combined with severe drought in the region — saw people lose jobs.

In an effort to get the region thriving again, Central Hawke’s Bay Council planned a number of initiatives. Key among them was the Jobs in Central Hawke’s Bay Project, led by mayor Alex Walker. This initiative was part of the Rural Community Recovery project — a partnership programme between Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and the Ministry of Social Development – which aimed to help people in rural communities forge a path into sustainable employment, in turn aiding Covid recovery.

Council saw they had a unique opportunity to actively connect the dots between everyone across the employment chain — including jobseekers, training organisations and companies offering work and mentorship. So, they created and facilitate the Skills, Training and Employment Network — a community of people and organisations that can help with every part of getting a job, from driving lessons to CV writing to workshops. They also recognised the value of having somewhere people could communicate kanohi ki te kanohi, face to face.

Looking for work can be a stressful process at the best of times and scrolling jargon-filled job listings can be intimidating and off-putting. So, wanting to create something accessible to Hawke’s Bay's rural communities, Council leased a caravan to create the Mobile Employment Hub one that can easily travel to, and connect with, different communities in the area. The result is an approachable, accessible place where jobseekers and job-offerors can talk to an actual person about what they’re after and what they can offer. And it’s been such a success, they’ve even been able to upgrade to a fit-for-purpose van.

Young apprentice using chainsaw in forestry yard

In fact, the whole project has been a huge win. Since its inception in 2020, the team have connected with over 911 local job seekers and 874 local businesses and have been instrumental in connecting and supporting at least 401 people into employment.

Part of what makes the initiative so effective is its holistic approach to things. One of many great examples is a jobseeker who approached the Mobile Employment Hub after leaving school early. They expressed an interest in forestry around the same time a local forestry business approached the Hub looking for staff. Someone from MSD then connected them, and the jobseeker was offered an apprenticeship that led to ongoing employment. The team also connected them with a driving school to help them get their full licence, a company that could help them with budgeting and finances, and the Apprentice Support Workshops the project facilitates. It’s this sort of across-the-board support that ensures jobseekers aren’t left to their own devices after one quick connection. Instead, they’re given the skills and resources necessary for meaningful, sustainable employment.

Not everyone knows what they want to do though — and the initiative caters to that too, offering Life Coaching services to those who want more guidance about their options and goals. Other job seekers had the idea to start a business but didn't know where to start. So, Council partnered with local businesses to create a programme called Growing Great Entrepreneurs, which offers a six-week course teaching key skills to starting a business, mentoring sessions, and ongoing pastoral support.

Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs

The Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs, a nationwide membership of all Mayors in New Zealand, created the Community Recovery Programme in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development. The programme continues to exist as the Rural Community Resilience Programme, focused on getting young people into employment. Since it began, over 4,000 young people have been supported into work. Hawke’s Bay Council’s efforts are a perfect demonstration of why programmes like these are so essential. It goes to show the huge benefits possible when communities are given the power to create local solutions to their community’s specific challenges, needs, desires and dreams.