The Government is investing $170,000 in a Canterbury initiative that connects secondary students with businesses who can transition them into further education, employment or training.

The funding will also extend Christchurch’s Educated Job Ready Programme to Timaru.

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced the funding in Christchurch today at the launch of the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy refresh.

“While Canterbury has New Zealand’s lowest regional unemployment rate, skills shortages pose a significant risk to high-value production across all districts in the region,” Mr Bridges says.

“Canterbury needs to keep its young people and ensure they have the knowledge and skills to get productive work in their region, both now and in the future. The region also needs to retain and retrain older workers and attract more people into the workforce.”

The Ministry of Social Development is working closely with other Canterbury agencies to support regional development and has a particular focus on young people who need additional support to play their part in the future workforce.

“By helping secondary schools and training institutions partner up with businesses we can support more young people into training and employment. This benefits them as well as the wider Canterbury community,” Mrs Tolley says.

“Our aim is to reduce the number of young people in Canterbury who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) so it remains less than the national NEET rate by June 2019.”

Due to the rebuild, Canterbury has a higher proportion of its workforce involved in construction than in New Zealand overall. The regional economic development initiatives will help the regional economy to keep growing after the earthquake recovery ceases to drive economic activity and employment.

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