The number of Tauranga employers taking advantage of Government wage subsidies to get people off the dole and into work has jumped 40 per cent in three years.
Figures from the Ministry for Social Development show it pumped more than $1 million into the scheme in the Western Bay every year.
Statistics also reveal it had contracts with 154 Tauranga employers in 2013 compared to 216 in 2015 while the number of beneficiaries given work opportunities through the scheme had climbed from 201 to 299 over the same time frames.
Smart Business Centre managing director Joanne Newman said in her 33 years in business she had never hired someone on the spot but that changed when job-seeker Grace Cowl was recommended from Work and Income.
The criteria for the office junior position included a bright personality and the willingness to learn, she said.
"We can train anybody, the issue from an employer's point of view is you have to find someone that fits in your team and in our case it was crucial," she said.
Ms Newman said she had high expectations and standards for her staff and that was made clear at the interview process.
However, Miss Cowl passed with flying colours.
"She came across as keen, very sensible and level headed. I was just so impressed."
The accounting business was also entitled to a small wage subsidy which made it an attractive proposal, Ms Newman said.
"The subsidy basically offsets the amount of money we would lose in productivity. It doesn't offset it all but it certainly helps and decreases our turnover in the period of time in training someone which takes three to six months."
The last administration job Ms Newman advertised attracted more than 200 applicants and she said working with Work and Income had eliminated that vetting process.
Miss Cowl said she had been on the unemployment benefit for six months and applied for 450 jobs.
The 21-year-old said that "felt absolutely horrible".
"You feel like you are waking up for nothing and when you get the job you feel like you have something to live for, and that is the truth."
The former polytech student said she was grateful for the opportunity. "I love it and I really feel like I have accomplished something. I am learning all these skills and wake up every day so excited, I could cry."
Social Development regional commissioner Mike Bryant said industry partnerships that could include wage subsidies allowed it to work with employers to find and train workers.
"We work closely with a number of training providers to help people reconnect with the workforce. Skills for industry employment programmes provide short job-focused training for specific employment opportunities."
The current growth experienced in the Western Bay of Plenty "continues to see vacancies relating to building, construction and roading. Caregiving is also providing job opportunities as demand for workers in this industry grows".
"We need to work with others to make a greater difference," Mr Bryant said.
Meanwhile, a new report released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show the Bay of Plenty had the biggest rise in job vacancies - nationwide for the past 12 months, ending in May.
The report measures changes in job vacancies advertised on Seek, Trade Me Jobs and the Education Gazette.
The Bay of Plenty figures, which could not be broken down into Tauranga-specific figures, show a 44.6 per cent change in job vacancies in the past 12 months.
The region also had the highest increase in the monthly change from April to May with 3 per cent. The second highest increase was in Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and West Coast with 1.9 per cent.
Winz Wage Subsidies:
* Employers may be able to get a Flexi-wage Subsidy to help hire someone on benefit as an employee.
* Winz may also be able to help with their training costs.
* Employers may also qualify for extra funding to help with the costs of training the new employee.
* Subsidies are paid to the employer, on behalf of the recipients.
* Employer Line 0800 778 008 or visit www.workandincome.govt.nz/employers/