''There were times I'd go in there bawling my eyes out and say I can't accomplish this, it's too hard.''
Those are the words Levi Menzies uses to describe his journey off the sickness benefit and into work - with the help of the Ministry for Social Development.
The 27-year-old, who said he once suffered from low self-esteem and confidence, is now the boss of his own security company, in Tauranga - and he calls the shots.
Menzies was reluctant to blow his own trumpet but said it felt good to ''achieve his goal''.
By his own recollection he was a beneficiary for about seven years before getting a part-time job in security.
His father had worked in the industry, so he knew the ropes. But when Covid struck last year, and he was approached by another security firm to provide 24-hour security Menzies grabbed the opportunity and set up Prime Focus Security.
''I always said I'd be a sole trader and I won't employ staff but that changed pretty quickly as I was working around the clock.''
Now he employs one person fulltime, two part-time and his partner Lisa who helps out where required and does the admin.
The company specialises in static and construction security alongside mobile patrols, alarm responses and personal security.
Being the master of his destiny sat well with Menzies who said ''I just decided one day I am going to do this and no one is going to stop me".
Ministry for Social Development Bay of Plenty regional commissioner Mike Bryant said although it had been a very challenging year, thousands of Bay beneficiaries had got jobs.
Data shows between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, 5255 Bay of Plenty people exited the benefit system to go into work.
These included 2180 beneficiaries from the Western Bay of Plenty and 1268 from Rotorua.
''We remain committed to doing everything we can to connect jobseekers with employers.''
The ministry worked with local partners like Chambers of Commerce; Employers and Manufacturers Association; NZKGI; FICA and Economic Development Agencies including Priority One and Grow Rotorua, as well as iwi representatives.
Jobseekers were finding opportunities in sectors like hospitality industry, roofing, construction, administration and forestry alongside apprenticeships in butchery, hairdressing, carpentry and electrical.
The Government was also committed to expanding Flexi-Wage to assist businesses hire up to an additional 40,000 New Zealanders, he said.
MSD job initiatives
* Pop-Up-Job shops connect jobseekers with potential employers and are held across the Bay of Plenty region.
* No-fee recruitment service and suite of products and programmes designed to get Kiwis into work and to stay in work.
* Supporting the kiwifruit industry with its recruitment needs. Assistance may be available for transport and additional costs to help ensure people get the best start to their job.
* Search for employment opportunities in the industry on the Work the Seasons website http://www.worktheseason.co.nz
* An industry partnership approach where we can support industry or individual employers with tailored employment programmes. http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/employers/
* Rapid Return to Work: a phone-based employment service supporting people who have recently been displaced from their job by providing CV and cover letter support, job interview preparation and assessing transferable skills and referring them to available job opportunities.
* Expansion to Mana in Mahi: increasing the length of time and amount of support that participants can receive and increasing the amount of wage subsidy employers receive.
* Connected: co-ordinating the delivery of All of Government Employment, Education, Training services through the Connected website, 0800 phone line and on the ground Connected spaces at Mount Maunganui, Tauranga and Whakatane, and across New Zealand.
* Work and Income Recruitment Tool: a free to use job board that enables employers to list jobs and connect with New Zealanders looking for work.
* Work the Seasons: enhancing our seasonal recruitment portal to include accommodation listings alongside job postings. - Source Ministry for Social Development