Isn't it refreshing to come across a new attitude to an old problem? And here, I am referring to the problem of the unemployed amongst us.

Many of us who are comfortably well off, or in a job, usually espouse a view along these lines: "They're not unemployed, they're unemployable. Second- or third-generation some of them, never held a job. Plenty of stories of people trying to help them and give them a job, but they don't turn up or they slack around. They're basically useless!"

I was in New Plymouth recently and my brother, an engineer for Downers, told an interesting story.

One of their managers recently hired a long-term unemployed man. He worked one day and didn't turn up the next day, and so the talk in the office went along the lines mentioned above, until this manager stopped them in their tracks by saying he was going around to the young man's home to pick him up. Everyone scoffed at that, and he reminded them that the guy had had to put in a 13- hour day on his first day, that he'd never had a job, that his dad had probably never held a job, and that maybe he could do with some support.


Anyway, he found the young man in bed, persuaded him to come to work, and took it upon himself to offer any support necessary to keep him in the job. Well, three months later, he is one of their best workers. They love the guy and he loves his job. It just took a little bit of understanding, a new attitude and a willingness to mentor the young man and release his true potential.

Sometimes it just requires those of us who are doing alright to offer a little awhina, to put up with irritating behaviours and inconveniences while an unemployed person develops new habits and gets up to speed.