Employers have snapped up more than 1000 places under the Government's new Job Ops subsidy scheme for young people, filling a quarter of the 4000 places allowed in the scheme by the end of next year.

The $5000 subsidies to employ unemployed people under 25 for six months are proving most attractive in provincial areas. Auckland, with a third of the population, accounts for only just over a fifth of the 1011 subsidies approved so far.

Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett said yesterday that 454 of the jobs had been filled to far, with the other 557 approved and still available for young people.

"Given we only announced the Job Ops scheme six weeks ago, that result is impressive," she said.

"Job Ops is doing what it was set up to do. It's drawing out work opportunities for low-skilled young people - giving them experience in the workplace and boosting their confidence. It's helping them find their footing in a very uneven labour market."

She said the thousandth Job Ops place was for a retail assistant in a small Taranaki general store.

"A young person has been referred for the job, which will help develop skills in customer service, cash handling and general retail experience," she said.

Retailing accounts for 206 of the 1011 places approved so far. Other services account for most of the rest, with the biggest numbers in accommodation, restaurants and cafes (159), property and business services (60), personal and other services (47) and cultural and recreational services (37).

There are also 142 places in construction, 117 in manufacturing and 132 in farming, forestry and fishing.

Ms Bennett said the budgeted 4000 places by the end of 2010 would be filled by mid-January at the current rate.

But she said there was still room for more places in the Community Max scheme, announced at the same time, which pays the full costs for non-profit organisations to employ young people for 30 hours a week at the minimum wage for six months, plus training and supervision subsidies - a total subsidy of up to $13,437 per young person.

Only 80 of the 3000 places for that scheme have been approved so far.

The two schemes were announced on August 2, four days before the latest labour force survey showed a jump in the unemployment rate to 6 per cent. Young people under age 25, who are targeted for both schemes, had by far the highest unemployment rate of 16.3 per cent.

The next labour force survey is not due for release until November 5, but unemployment benefit numbers show that unemployment has kept on rising.

Benefit numbers rose by just over 1100 a week from 37,146 at the end of March to 50,855 at the end of June, and kept rising at the same rate to 55,272 at the end of July. The rate of increase slowed slightly last month to just under 1000 a week, making the dole queue 59,151 at the end of August.

The rules for the Job Ops scheme were tightened after initial publicity last month about a rush of employers seeking the subsidy. The criteria now state that jobs must be "opportunities that wouldn't exist if the Job Ops subsidy wasn't available".

* Job ops places




Bay of Plenty

Gisborne/Hawkes Bay







Total so far: 1011

* workandincome.govt.nz