Growth sees benefits decline

By Shauni James

1 comment
Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Mike Bryant.
Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Mike Bryant.

Fewer people in Rotorua are on benefits than a year ago and business leaders say that's partly due to strong business growth in the region.

Rotorua has seen a decrease in the number of people on benefits from March 2015 to March this year, with the figure dropping from 7107 to 6825 - a total decrease of 282.

Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner Mike Bryant said it was encouraging to see more people moving off benefits and into work.

"We are now seeing the lowest number of people on benefits since March 2013 for the wider Bay of Plenty region."

He said front line case managers were working hard with clients, developing employment strategies, supporting them with training and other contracted service opportunities, as well as other products and services which could support their clients to gain employment.

"We are seeing opportunities for people in construction, and for Rotorua in particular, the tourism industry is driving demand for hospitality and retail workers."

Mr Bryant said the ministry worked closely with employers to identify ways they could match people to work.

"We have a large number of work ready clients who would love an opportunity, so any employers who are looking for team members should contact our Employer Line 0800 778 008."

EmployNZ general manager Jay Banner said his organisation offered a number of programmes to clients in receipt of a benefit.

These include Employment Placement Service, Retail Training for Work, Hospitality Training for Work and Intensive Literacy and Numeracy, as well as Youth Guarantee foundation programs, he said.

EmployNZ has offices in Rotorua, Tauranga, Te Puke and Tokoroa.

"I think it is really positive to see unemployment numbers reducing and is indicative of strong business growth in our local region."

Mr Banner said across all the regions which EmployNZ operated, it had seen a large lift of clients transitioning into employment, and the local labour market was currently buoyant.

"Across all industries we are seeing a lift in the number of vacancies being advertised but naturally, in the local market, the key industries appear to be retail, hospitality and tourism, trades, logistics and aged care."

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said it was "well and truly" a good sign of Rotorua's economy and any reduction in the number of unemployed was a sign things were coming right.

He said with tourism "going gangbusters" they would expect tourism operators and businesses which contract to the industry to be growing and looking to employ.

He also said it was not surprising, but great to see, there were opportunities for people in construction as building consents had gone up.

Rotorua beneficiaries as at March 2016:

* Jobseeker Support: 3173

* Sole Parent Support: 2023

* Supported Living Payment: 1527

* Other: 102

* Total March 2016: 6825

* Total March 2015: 7107

- Rotorua Daily Post

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