Many rural communities face the problems of declining population, social deprivation and
lack of job prospects for young people. The 10.1 per cent rate of unemployment in Tokoroa
is much higher than the national average; hard hitting for young people who are trying
to start work in markets where experience and credentials are important. South Waikato
communities like Tokoroa do not want to see their youth leaving the district in order to find
work and create their own future. Council and Mayor Neil Sinclair have developed a twin
overarching strategy- ‘create jobs’ and ‘promote the district’. But how can a council create
jobs? The short answer is it can’t; only business investment can create new jobs. So what
can a council do to encourage that investment?
South Waikato Council believes that the leaders of a community must work together to
identify and progress investment projects, and that a council is uniquely obligated to
bring those parties together to make this progress. These leaders include iwi, community
organisations, local businesses, local politicians, and the local leaders in Education,
Health, Police, Social Welfare, churches and many others who, by working together can
collectively pull a big project over the line.
Part of the South Waikato strategy for job creation was to conduct a study of demand
and supply to establish what the needs were of the different employers and sectors in the
district, and what were their forward projections for skills and labour. The results of this
research showed there was a clear benefit for the establishment of a Trade Training Centre
which ‘matched’ the needs of employers for the rights skills and work disciplines with the
needs of school leavers for the right training and practice in the kind of work environments
which they could work in.
Council acted as a catalyst to bring together interested parties, most notably the business
owners of local companies who wanted to ensure a supply of the right labour at the right
time and support the future of the community. Other key stakeholders were the local
schools, Waiariki Polytechnic, and others who could help create a Trade Training Centre
in Tokoroa. The aim was for local business companies to ensure that local youth could
be trained in the skills and attitudes that local companies needed, and thus to make
themselves attractive for full time employment locally.
The Centre started with training in the engineering trades, and has been so successful that it has extended into, automotive and is soon to expand in to welding as a specialist subject.
Work is currently being undertaken to use the same model to cater for the local health sector.