A $14.7m fund will go towards supporting the most vulnerable regions who are willing to get their economy up and running again.
It consists of $11.62m from Te Ara Mahi (TAM), the Provincial Growth Fund’s employment, skills, and capability fund, and $3.17m from He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR), the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s youth training and employment pathway fund.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones understands the financial strain that these unprecedented times have brought upon the country and its provinces.
"To loosen and ease the hardship that people have endured during this time, we must no wait any longer and employment opportunities are crucial," he says.
The funding covers projects in Canterbury, Manawatū-Whanganui, Hawke’s Bay, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Te Tai Tokerau. It will be invested into a range of diverse training, education, and skills, for workforces such as roadworks, agriculture, forestry and more.
"It is the Government's responsibility to financial aid and support people to get back into a working groove so they continue to support their whānau.
"In Whangārei alone, there are three government-funded projects, one is $1.4m that will look at providing an internship program for people to enter into the local agriculture industry," Jones says.
A key focus will be towards assisting young people and breaking down employment barriers. Jones says digital opportunities and entrepreneurship programmes will be funded.
"One of the benefits that will arise from this funding will be that our whānau and tamariki a stepping stone into a more sustainable situation post-COVID-19 which have been a difficult time for everyone."
Jones recognises that the road ahead to rebuilding regional economies will be a long and challenging task and that this is only the beginning.