Disconnect between employers and younger jobseekers

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Fact finding . . . Youth MP Ellie Tizzard discusses her youth em ployment project with Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey.

By ADAM BURNS, LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTER

A disconnect between employers and younger jobseekers in North Canterbury may be holding both groups back, despite unemployment sitting at record lows.

A large proportion of those unemployed in both the Waimakariri and Hurunui districts are under25 and discussions have been set in motion around why this was the case and how to improve it.

This comes amid multiple industries crying out for staff and record low unemployment throughout the country.

Former Waimakariri Youth MP Ellie Tizzard — who is steering the project alongside Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey — believes both businesses and youth have been disengaged.

‘‘There’s no real connection between the two, basically due to a lack of communication and not knowing what sort of programmes are out there,’’ she says.

The annual average unemployment rate in the Waimakariri was 2.7 per cent in December 2021, down from 3.1 per cent 12 months earlier.

The official unemployment rate for the country dropped to a record low 3.2 per cent.
About 20 per cent of those on job seeker support in both the Waimakariri and Hurunui districts were under 25.

It mirrors the national picture where the unemployment rate among ‘‘young Kiwis’’ was three times the national average, according to Stats NZ’s numbers.

Mr Doocey says low unemployment was hiding high youth unemployment.
‘‘A major concern was that with redundancies, young people would be competing with more experienced adults for jobs,’’ he says.

Ms Tizzard conducted a youth survey within the district which highlighted 90 per cent of respondents found it difficult to secure employment.

She says there was a possible lack of awareness around what was on offer for young jobseekers.

The agricultural sector, who continue to grapple with a labour shortage, have been engaged in discussions through the scheme.

But employers had raised concerns around work ethic which had made them think twice about taking on younger employee.

Enterprise North Canterbury says employers had noted youth were coming into the workforce lacking the basic skills required.

‘‘It takes a lot of effort on the employers part to bring them up to standard,’’ business support manager Miles Dalton says.

‘‘They want to know that the person that they will take on will have a good work ethic and be able to do the job, and while the 90 day trial is a good tool for employers with fewer than 20 staff, there is still a large risk for any business if they take on the wrong person, including youth.’’

Ms Tizzard says she believed there were young people who were willing to work hard and work ethic was not limited to the younger age bracket.

‘‘People of our generation have a completely unique experience and going into work life we have new skills and knowledge to bring.’’

Mr Dalton says there were a number of local schemes to aid young people into employment, including North Canterbury Community College, Apprenticeship Boost, Mana in Mahi and the STAR programme.