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The Government has announced a comprehensive strategy to reduce the number of at-risk young people not in employment or training in regional New Zealand. 

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith joined Prime Minister Bill English who made the announcement at Mr Apple in Hawke’s Bay today.

The $50 million initiative is funded from Budget 2017 and will be delivered as part of the Regional Growth Programme. It will see central and local government partner with Iwi, businesses and support agencies, in order to plan, implement and fund interventions that are unique and tailored to each region.

“Getting young people into long-term employment is a key component of sustained regional economic growth,” Mr Bridges says.

“The four regions we’re targeting have a high proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training.  But they also have strong primary industries, and other sectors, hungry to employ local talent.

“This programme will match those youth to the employers and through intensive pastoral work, tailored to each region and individual, keep them in employment.

“We will work to understand the specific needs of the young people most at risk of long term unemployment while also making clear the obligations that come with this initiative. Young people who are receiving income support have a responsibility to engage with the programme and do what they can to successfully move into education or employment.

“Our aim is to create locally driven solutions which get young people engaged and ready to fill available vacancies in their region,” Mr Bridges says.

“We know that getting young people into employment can transform lives. While many will move into education, training or employment in their own time, a small number of young people need more targeted help,” Mrs Tolley says.

“This programme deliberately targets young people with complex needs and at risk of being long term unemployed without the right support systems.

“We want to ensure these young people have the right mix of support and obligations. We are also focused on reducing barriers to employment, and we want to actively support youth to address recreational drug use.

“This is about delivering a local approach that works hand in hand with these young people to make locally run support services more accessible, and to ensure that they build the skills they need to find work in their region,” Mrs Tolley says.

The strategy follows the model tested by trials such as Kaikohe Grow in Northland, and Project 1000 in Hawkes’ Bay, which have a number of youth on or in a pathway into employment.

“This Government is doing more than ever before to connect our young people to education and employment,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“This programme will focus on providing young people in the regions with greater access to support, work readiness programmes, training, education and direct access to employment.

“The result will be a pool of employable young people, working for regional employers, which in turn will support social and economic growth in each region,” Mr Goldsmith says.

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