Mayor Jenny Rowan
Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan says she will make youth and youth issues a key priority if she is re-elected.
"Our young people are the future of the District and one of my key priorities is to work for zero youth unemployment," she says.
"As a community, we need to focus on both job creation and the development of skilled and reliable workers – this is a serious challenge for our district. Otorohanga has already achieved zero unemployment – so there's no reason we can't do it here," she says.
Ms Rowan says she is already working with Paraparaumu Work and Income (WINZ) Manger Kirk Te Awhe to achieve zero unemployment. A working group, including representatives from WINZ, the Council, Nature Coast, the Chamber of Commerce, Whitireia Polytechnic, Kapiti Skills Centre, Youth Quest and Youth2Xcel has already been set up to help match trained youth with employers.
"Every week we read about mindless vandalism or drunken teenage parties. The reality is that the vast majority of Kapiti young people are contributing and getting on with their lives. Statistics show that there's actually been no increase in youth offending for the last ten years. I have been hugely impressed with the young people I have met in sports clubs, volunteering roles, schools and community groups. They have so much to offer our business sector. We should be proud of them and give them every opportunity to succeed and grow in the District," Ms Rowan says.
WINZ are offering qualifying employers a $5,000 Job Ops subsidy to take on young people aged 16 to 24 who they would not otherwise be able to employ. Ms Rowan says this provides invaluable work experience and helps young people find long-term employment. There is no obligation on the employer to keep the young person on for more than six months, but figures from WINZ show 75% stay in the job they were subsidized for.
Local businessman James Cootes who owns three Kiss and Bake Up cafes in the District has employed several beneficiaries through the Job Ops scheme says "They have all worked out really well. One of them actually went on to manage one of our stores". Mr Cootes was initially reluctant to try out anyone through this scheme - "I thought – why employ someone on benefit? I discovered that some people just need a bit of a break. If they are unskilled but have a great work attitude – it is a win - win for us all. They get training and job experience and I get a worker who has our high standards and values for our business".
Ms Rowan says she has been a member of the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs for several years and feels very strongly about the need to create a better future for young people – both locally and nationally.
There are approximately 171 young people on the unemployment benefit in Paraparaumu and Waikanae.