Community effort delivering in spades
More than 180 people are now in work thanks to the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme, with numbers growing daily. Perhaps more exciting though is that 38 now have long-term full-time employment through their participation, with others well on the way to sustainable outcomes.
One of the biggest goals of the programme has been to ensure each participant picks up new skills and gains qualifications with the support of the Ministry of Social Development and local training providers growing their confidence to tackle the job market with all the right tools to gain meaningful, long-term employment.
Programme manager Glenis Philip-Barbara says the best thing about the TRP has been the opportunity to invest in Tairāwhiti people, and she continues to see it as a strong driver of effort from so many – training providers, businesses and of course, the Government.
“People are the best investment we can make in our community right now,” she says. “As we consider what we need to do to help drive the economy in a way that looks after everyone and build on existing capital, it’s clear that investing in people is where it’s at.”
When initially rolled out, the programme was for displaced forestry workers who were affected by the closure of the China market due to COVID, but that soon changed when the market rebounded quicker than expected and the programme was opened up to anyone who had lost their jobs because of COVID.
The goal of the $23.755m Redeployment Programme was to provide work and training for up to 200 people – a figure that this week sits at 184 with more being added daily. It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council. All those on the programme come through the Ministry of Social Development.
“We are seeing some amazing outcomes through employers who are delivering real opportunities for our people,” says Mrs Philip-Barbara. “Together with Turanga Ararau, they are working hard with each participant to find a sustainable employment pathway – these businesses aren’t contracted to do this at all, they are just doing it because they want to support their community. Everyone has delivered 10 fold and more because they know it matters.” The programme is working with 17 local businesses to deliver jobs, work and training to participants across five projects and has now been pushed out to end in December.
One of those is the re-metalling project which is just getting underway with its 51 new recruits. The weather pushed the start of the project out but with a somewhat settled spring now here, it is flying along with crews across the rohe.
Redeployed workers on the re-metalling and hazardous trees projects have been busy gaining new qualifications thanks to MSD, with 13 new chainsaw operators, 74 construct safe individuals, 30 more licenced drivers, 12 more truck drivers, 38 wheels, tracks and roller operators and 93 first aiders. Fulton Hogan has a clutch of its own qualifications too including stay safe, envirowise, danger zones, speed management guide, light trailer and spotter/observer training.
Kaitiaki workers across Whaia Tītīrangi, Recreational Services, the gardening teams and those at the cemetery, have also been upskilling with GrowSafe qualifications and six others earning their Primary Industries Certification. Across the programme 54 people have gained GrowSafe qualifications.
Wood from the hazardous trees project is being cut into manageable pieces and will be given out to those who need it through the firewood initiative. “Our community will certainly be warm next winter,” says Mrs Philip-Barbara, “thanks to a great idea from Council staff and lots of support from a host of community organisations and businesses. This wood would normally be chipped, so it is a great outcome for all to have it cut into firewood.”
The Workforce Development Plan covers the horticulture forestry and civil construction sectors and has identified encouraging job numbers in the context of the pandemic. Horticulture has strong employment opportunities over the October-December period. That increased demand offers excellent opportunities for displaced workers to find employment while they work out what their next move is. More permanent employment opportunities also exist and with the recent apprentice initiative launched by the Government there are even more chances to improve existing skills and capabilities, or to re-train into a new career path.
The draft plan is with the CARE (Commitment, Action and Reciprocity that results in sustainable Employment) Forum, the employment and training sub-group of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan, for review and implementation.
It's expected the plan will play a large part in the recovery of Tairāwhiti post COVID-19.
For more information about the redeployment programme
Photo: Getting out and about to see the mahi . . . Mayor Rehette Stoltz (centre) with Fulton Hogan foreman Hayden Stuart (left) and Tairāwhiti Redeployment Programme worker Trent Kake on the newly re-metalled Totangi Road at Ngatapa.