One of the societal challenges, post Covid 19, is to the number of people who will be unemployed in our community. Especially the young.
A local Trust, the Wayne Francis Trust, engaged a talented young woman, Lauren Tyler-Harwood, to research what worked, and what didn’t, last time we had a recession which led to large job losses. That was in the 1980s and 1990s; post Rogernomics. Lauren interviewed a number of people who had worked in schemes at that time, and researched any papers which analysed the programmes nationally.
Lauren also investigated schemes around the world. At the back of her paper there is an interesting programme run in Glasgow, which is of relevance to Christchurch.
The Wayne Francis Trust has started talking to people about how we can create our own employment programmes, here in Christchurch. We did for years. Both Vicki Buck and myself worked with employment programmes before we were Mayors. We both engaged the Council into being a supportive institution toward the unemployed, and we were supported strongly by the people of Christchurch. We need to go back to this.
How did it happen in the past? Vicki set up a division at CCC for employment programmes to be run out of the Council. The Council had stacks of projects which were supported in the community. At one stage CCC had 1000 people on PEP schemes (that was one of the schemes via Central Government). All sorts of projects were undertaken, often in association with a range of community agencies, like Wai Ora Trust. CCC often found the projects for the Community Agencies to work on.
When I became Mayor, I encouraged the Council to move the employment programmes to the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), the equivalent of what is now called ChristchurchNZ.
As the job challenges matured CDC started “Actionworks”. This programme grew out of the work of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, a national programme which was a collaborative of Mayors. The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs was supported in Central Government by Jim Anderton and Steve Maharey.
The Actionworks programme was a genuine partnership between Local Government, Central Government, employers, the educational sector and community agencies. It existed to support young people into employment. When they came through the door, they were met by a range of people, from many agencies delivering appropriate support, together. The CDC did not deliver any programmes. The agency was merely an independent place where all sectors collaborated.
We need to encourage the commencement of this level of organisation again.
There are currently 600 young people registered as unemployed in Christchurch. Treasury once undertook a study which concluded that if a young person was unemployed at 25, they would cost the taxpayers of this country $1m in their lifetime. So, we need to focus on this group. At the end of this year around 7000 young people will leave our secondary schools. Most will head toward Tertiary Institutions, but many won’t. Also, many young graduates from UC, Lincoln University and Ara will complete their courses. We need these young people to stay, and to add to our city’s long-term potential.
So, the research undertaken by the Wayne Francis Trust (of which I must declare, I am a Trustee) is a gift to this City. We need to encourage all the sectors to work together again. I will get a future Tuesday Club session to cover unemployment programmes and how we can again, as a City, show how easily we collaborate down here. There’s a number of us working hard to make this happen.
One of the essential elements for this programme to flourish is for it to be sponsored at Council level, and delivered via ChristchurchNZ. It requires leadership from the top. Leadership from the streets will ensure that this happens.
I have received a heap of excellent “shovel ready” projects which I will list next week. I have had a number of people speak to me this week, who are thinking hard about what we should be considering. One person rang me and said “have we been asked to supply shovel ready projects?”. The answer is no. However, were we asked originally by CCC for ideas for the list? The answer is also NO. What we will be doing is presenting our ideas to a Council meeting and offering to work with them to ensure that we have appropriate mix of programmes which will ensure that we nurture those who have paid the employment price of Covid 19. That’s all this is about.
It’s not too late to send ideas on “shovel ready” projects to email@example.com.