Mayors Taskforce for Jobs AGM shows power of local response during global crisis

25 November 2020

Dozens of mayors, councillors, and young people gathered on Friday to celebrate The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs' success.

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) AGM has provided a bright spot in a dark year, as dozens of mayors, councillors, young people, community and social groups gathered on Friday to celebrate the Taskforce’s success in cultivating hundreds of job opportunities across provincial New Zealand.

Young people have been hit particularly hard by the Covid crisis.  Data from the Ministry of Social Development shows a 65 per cent increase of young people accessing Jobseeker Work Ready benefits over the last year.

This has made the work of MTFJ even more vital, as their agility, knowledge and proximity to local communities and businesses has made them the ideal connector between young people and jobs.

“There has never been a more important time for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs.  When Covid hit, we knew it would be tough, and as Mayors we are ideally positioned to alleviate this by connecting young people with employment opportunities,” said MTFJ Chair and Otorohanga Mayor Max Baxter.

“Young people are affected by this crisis more than any other demographic, because they work entry level jobs within the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors.  They’re the first to be let go in an economic downturn, as we’ve seen this year.”

“AGM attendees heard from rangatahi whose lives have been transformed through Outward Bound or the Tuia Programme, as well as from mayors that have connected their young people with local businesses and from principals who have seen their students thrive.” 

“We’ve supported over 25 councils with trades graduations, to help raise the profile of some of our most promising graduates, and pushed hard for greater access to driver licencing facilities in isolated communities.”

“To have so many supporters in one room, and hear how MTFJ programmes have made a real difference in their communities, and for them to be so hungry for the next opportunity and keen to engage, it really fuels us to keep going.”

This year MTFJ has co-ordinated a range of programmes designed to either find work for young people, or help development their skills and confidence.  These include the Community Recovery Programme, a partnership between MTFJ and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD).  After a successful pilot with four rural councils, the Programme has now achieved over 300 employment outcomes to date across 18 councils.

“Every region has different industries, demographics and employment challenges.  The support and resource from MSD has enabled local mayors to smash through the red tape and connect over 300 jobseekers and employers.”

“We’ve seen mayors holding MTFJ speed dating for jobs events, going to schools, going to employers, and just knocking doors down to connect people with work and personal development opportunities.”

“The programme has combined central government’s resource with our mayors’ knowledge, relationships and experience on the ground, and the result has been hundreds more people in work.”

Other highlights for MTFJ were a full membership, with all 67 New Zealand mayors signing up to the programme this year, and a partnership with Dot Loves Data, who have provided Youth Employability Dashboards to all MTFJ members, presenting regional data to allow councils to better understand their local economic and emerging trends.

“Getting every single mayor on board is a huge endorsement for MTFJ.  Essentially what we’re doing is giving them the support and data to help them maximise the talent of their local community,” concluded Mr Baxter.