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Helping hand for rural apprentices

11 January 2023
helping hand rural apprentices Mayors taskforce


Young people in rural areas can face challenges finding employment—and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs provides funding to help them take the first step into a career.

When Masterlink Business Development Manager Pete Shields heard about the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) programme from Hauraki District Council Coordinator Julie Stephenson, inspiration struck.

Soon, the wheels were set in motion to help young plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers in rural New Zealand take that first step into apprenticeships.

“For the programme to succeed, we need to connect people to opportunities, so linking MTFJ and Masterlink was ideal since part of my job is to find candidates for host employers throughout the country,” Pete says.

Funding opportunities

There are very real challenges facing young people looking for employment in rural areas and small towns. Firstly, there are fewer job opportunities. Secondly, funding the apprenticeship setup costs (basic PPE and tools at around $2,800) is daunting. That’s where MTFJ steps in and the programme is proving to be a tangible solution.

“When a rural host employer asks Masterlink to help find them an apprentice, or if they have someone they want to sign up, MTFJ funds those setup costs if they are operating in that area. The benefits are twofold: rural businesses that have struggled to find skilled workers are employing locals, and young people are getting a step up on a sustainable career path. With MTFJ covering those start-up costs, they are work-ready on day one and don’t start out in debt.”

Career path support

The programme support goes further than finances. “These young people feel that someone is backing them and helping them to succeed. As their Masterlink mentor, I’m in regular contact and visit face to face every month for their first year,” Pete says.

What’s more, the MTFJ programme is focused on putting young people on a career path. “An apprenticeship requires a five-year commitment, so they obtain a recognisable qualification, giving them access to employment anywhere in New Zealand or overseas,” says Pete.

First-hand experience

Brian Woodroofe, owner of Woodroofe Plumbing in Paeroa, has taken on two apprentices, Kahn Andersen-Gillies and Carter Tahitahi, through the Masterlink MTFJ programme and is happy with the outcome. “From an employer’s point of view, it’s very easy as the admin is taken care of, which is a huge plus.”

Brian also appreciates that Masterlink organises block courses to give his apprentices hands-on experience in a workshop environment in aspects of the job they may not experience as part of his team. “The block courses ensure they get a well-rounded educational experience, which is important for their growth and skill set,” he says.

And as for the apprentices? It’s thumbs up from them too. One year into his apprenticeship, Kahn Andersen-Gillies says it’s been great not to have to worry about paying off the set-up fees. Plus, he can see real potential for his future with the skills he’s learning on the job.

Carter Tahitahi has also been doing his apprenticeship with Woodroofe Plumbing for just over a year and appreciates the financial assistance from MTFJ, which allows him to focus on learning. “Everything about this job is enjoyable, and every day is different. I’ll be doing this for life now.”

Mayors taskforce for jobs: An overview

Local mayors, in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, launched the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) as a small Covid-19 recovery pilot in 2020. MTFJ is now an successful communitybased employment initiative that has placed more than 3,000 young people into rural and provincial employment in the past two years.

In the last financial year, more than 1,800 NEETS (youth not in employment, education, or training), youth, Covid displaced, and people living with disabilities were placed into employment, exceeding the target by 25 per cent.

For more information, visit www.mtfj.co.nz


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