At a unique event in Dannevirke last week, six job-seekers were given a chance to put themselves in front of potential employers at an After 5 event at the Work and Income Service Centre.
"We're excited about this opportunity and appreciate the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce profiling our work through this event," said Katie Brosnahan, regional commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development.
With 349 people looking for full-time work here and as many as 493 people hunting for part-time work, Ms Brosnahan said the evening was about matching employees and employers.
"Dannevirke has been successful in placing people into full-time work," she said.
"The difference employment can make on families and communities is huge. Aroha [Peakman-Walker of Dannevirke Work and Income Service Centre] and her team are doing a fantastic job, supporting and encouraging people into work.
''The Dannevirke Work and Income Service Centre has placed 822 [people] in full-time employment in this area in the past year, reducing the risk of long-term benefit dependency. When people move into work from a benefit, it's the circuit breaker for their children, family and community. With 172 of those now in work having children, this is a huge impact.
"Around 60 per cent of the people we place remain in work for more than three months."
The feature of last week's Chamber of Commerce After 5 event at Work and Income was the introduction of six job seekers on the Perfect Match programme.
"These people are super-ready and have plenty of motivation and enthusiasm," Ms Brosnahan said.
Ms Peakman-Walker, manager of the Dannevirke Work and Income Service Centre, said her team had been working with the six clients for four weeks.
"It's a proud moment to see them present themselves here," she said. "Hopefully there will be a perfect match with an employer in the group here tonight.''
The six clients had to put their nerves behind them and step up and sell themselves, with most admitting it was a daunting task.
Robert Chatham, 32, studied sport and fitness and design in Whanganui. "I'm committed to continue learning," he told the Dannevirke News.
"I've been out of work for five years. At first I didn't see a future here in Dannevirke after returning from Whanganui, but I've made my home here and I just want to get into the work force.
''I'm keen and excited to see what's on offer here tonight and I'm impressed by the diversity of those who have turned up. I want this to be the start of my new career."
Michael Pocock said he was extremely nervous at the prospect of networking with employers.
"But I've some good contacts and people are willing to help me," he said.
Michael recently graduated as student of the year from the EIT Level 3 building course held in Dannevirke and is hoping to get a foot back into the door of a building career.
Britany Tapsell was a Year 13 student at Dannevirke High School last year.
"I love to try new things and I'm keen and motivated," she said. Britany has experience as a child minder and working in retail.
Johnson Harrison has been working for the past six years with Tararua Community Youth Services and is now looking for a new career path.
Mystee Rees has a background in retail and computers and wants to work with the public.
Jen Fraser, 34, moved to Dannevirke 10 years ago.
"I've great skills in the customer service area and have even trained racehorses," she said.
"I'm hard-working and always up for a new challenge."
Sue Berry, chairman of the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce, said the evening was an excellent idea and a wonderful concept.
"This is the first step on a pathway into the work force and an innovative idea."
Businessman Suresh Patel said he was impressed with the calibre of the Work and Income clients.
"These are people who really want to work," he said.
* Last year Dannevirke Work and Income placed more than 822 people into employment in our area.
* 32 per cent of those (263) were aged between 18 and 24.
* 172 of those placed in work have children.
* 134 people with a health condition have also been placed in work in this area.