MTFJ: Small rural communities benefit from community-based employment programme

31 August 2022

An employment programme driven by local mayors has placed over 3000 people into jobs in rural and provincial New Zealand in just two years.

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) Community Recovery Programme began as a small COVID-19 recovery pilot in 2020. It is now a leading example of grassroots community-based employment initiative created through a local and central government partnership.

MTFJ in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development is now celebrating the achievements gained last financial year, with more than 1800 NEETS (youth not in employment, education, or training), youth, COVID displaced, and people living with disabilities placed into employment, exceeding the target by 25 percent. 

MSD contracted $14.7 million in funding to this programme in the 2021/22 year.

Key statistics for 2021/22:

Of the more than 1800 people who have benefitted from MTFJ, 380 people have been placed in an apprenticeship, over 700 NEETS, more than 400 youth and 200 people displaced by COVID and over 50 people living with a disability have been placed into work.

Far North Region 42
Waikato Region 357
Bay of Plenty Region 136
Gisborne Region 50
Hawke's Bay Region 145
Manawatu-Wanganui Region 293
Taranaki Region 82
Wellington Region 94
West Coast Region 230
Canterbury Region 211
Otago Region 129
Southland Region 52
Total 1821*

As well as getting people into sustainable work, the programme has also enabled 500 people to gain their driver licence and supported 700 education and training opportunities.

“This is a significant achievement in some of our smallest communities. It means our rural businesses struggling to find skilled workers are employing local people with local knowledge to be part of their team,” says Amanda Nicolle, Director Industry Partnerships, MSD.

“This programme is a leading example of what a strong partnership between local and central government can achieve for communities. Ultimately, it’s about creating better life outcomes in rural communities and that no one is left behind.

“People in rural New Zealand often face more challenges when entering the work force including access to the right training, driver licensing and testing facilities, and a lack of access to employers and support services,” Ms Nicolle said.

“The success of the programme is down to the ability of Mayors and their communities to connect people to opportunities, and the cooperation with MSD offices,” says MTFJ chair and Ōtorohanga Mayor Max Baxter.

“Small to medium sized businesses have received assistance with recruitment, training and subsidies to help them take on workers, and provided training and pastoral care to job seekers so they can succeed in their role.

“We know where the gaps are, who we can connect to in our communities, which businesses will provide opportunities or need help with recruitment, and the whānau members we should engage with to help our people reach their goals,” Max Baxter said.

This year the partnership launched a new programme, Community Resilience Programme, that will support at least 29 Mayors to lead employment initiatives in their communities.

*Final numbers from each council are still being collected. MSD regions differ from LGNZ regions.