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Investing in people

Redeployment tally 180 and counting.

More than 180 people are in work, thanks to the Tairawhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme (TRP) and numbers are growing daily.

Thirty-eight of those have long-term, full-time employment through their participation, with others well on the way to sustainable outcomes.

One of the main goals of the programme is to ensure each participant learns new skills and gains qualifications with the support of the Ministry of Social Development and local training providers.

Programme manager Glenis Philip-Barbara says the best thing about the TRP has been the opportunity to invest in Tairawhiti people, and she continues to see it as a strong driver of effort from many — training providers, businesses and the Government.

“People are the best investment we can make in our community right now,” she says.

“As we consider what we need to do to help drive the economy in a way that looks after everyone and build on existing capital, it's clear investing in people is where it's at.”

When initially rolled out, the programme was for displaced forestry workers affected by the closure of the China market due to Covid.

That soon changed when the market rebounded quicker than expected and the programme was opened to anyone who had lost their jobs because of Covid.

A goal of the $23.755m redeployment programme is to provide work and training for up to 200 local people — a figure that this week sits at 184, with more being added daily.

It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council.

All those on the programme go through the Ministry of Social Development.

“We are seeing some amazing outcomes through employers who are delivering real opportunities for our people,” says Mrs Philip-Barbara. “

Together with Turanga Ararau, they are working hard with each participant to find a sustainable employment pathway.

“These businesses aren't contracted to do this at all. They are just doing it because they want to support their community.

“Everyone has delivered ten-fold and more because they know it matters.”

The programme is working with 17 local businesses to deliver jobs, work and training to participants across five projects, and has been pushed out to end in December.

One of those is the remetalling project, which is just getting under way with 51 new recruits.

The weather pushed out the start of the project but with a settled spring now here, it is flying along.

Redeployed workers on the remetalling and hazardous trees projects have been busy gaining new qualification, with 13 new chainsaw operators, 74 construct safe individuals, 30 more licensed drivers, 12 more truck drivers, 38 wheels, tracks and roller operators, and 93 first aiders.

Fulton Hogan has a clutch of its own qualifications, too, including stay safe, envirowise, danger zones, speed management guide, light trailer and spotter/observer training.

Kaitiaki (guardian) workers across Whaia Titirangi, Recreational Services, the gardening teams and those at the cemetery have also been upskilling with GrowSafe qualifications and six others earning their Primary Industries Certification.

Across the programme, 54 people have gained GrowSafe qualifications.

Wood from the hazardous trees project is being cut into manageable pieces and will be given out to those who need it through the firewood initiative.

“Our community will certainly be warm next winter, thanks to a great idea from council staff and lots of support from a host of community organisations and businesses,” says Mrs Philip-Barbara

“This wood would normally be chipped, so it is a great outcome for all to have it cut into firewood.”

The Workforce Development Plan covers the horticulture forestry and civil construction sectors and has identified encouraging job numbers in the context of the pandemic.

Horticulture has strong employment opportunities over the October-December period.

That increased demand offers opportunities for displaced workers to find employment while they work out what their next move is.

More permanent employment opportunities also exist and with the recent apprentice initiative launched by the Government there are even more chances to improve existing skills and capabilities, or to retrain into a new career path.

The draft plan is with the CARE (Commitment, Action and Reciprocity that results in sustainable Employment) forum — the employment and training sub-group of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan — for review and implementation.

It is expected the plan will play a large part in the recovery of Tairawhiti post Covid-19.

Out and about to see the mahi: Mayor Rehette Stoltz with Fulton Hogan foreman Hayden Stuart (left) and Tairawhiti Redeployment Programme worker Trent Kake on the newly remetalled Totangi Road at Ngatapa. Picture by The Black Balloon