Pacific Peoples Minister Hon. Aupito William Sio has welcomed the announcement of funding to expand the successful Pacific Employment Support Service (PESS) to regional New Zealand.
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest $8.85 million to expand the scheme, as part of the $82.4 million employment and skills initiative Te Ara Mahi, announced by Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern on February 4.
Led by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), PESS currently supports young Pacific people in Auckland and Hamilton to find sustainable employment, education or training opportunities.
The providers PESS works with support young people through tailored interventions such as career advice, coaching and interview skills.
“The PGF funding will enable PESS to expand into greater Waikato, Manawatū-Whanganui, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Murihuku/Southland,” Minister Sio says.
“It will also expand to include Pacific people aged up to 39 years old who are not earning or learning.”
This support will help tackle the long-term challenges Pacific peoples are facing in regional New Zealand, the Minister adds.
“When we improve Pacific people’s economic wellbeing we’re also strengthening families and adding value to the economies of our regions.”
Minister Sio says Pacific unemployment has outpaced the overall unemployment rate for too long.
“With a Pacific unemployment rate at 6.2 per cent compared with 3.9 per cent of the overall population, we must continue to focus on lifting the number of Pacific people in work.
“We know there are a number of strong Pacific communities in the regions, such as Oamaru where one in four residents are Pacific people.
“This PGF funding will enable the PESS to expand into the regions and allow even more Pacific people to reach their potential.”
The PESS initiative has already had success in urban areas, with over 2200 participants since it started in 2010.
Over 1000 have been placed in employment and 687 have gained training placements.
“Getting more young Pacific people into employment, education or training is also a priority,” the Minister says.
“PGF funding through Te Ara Mahi will enable the PESS to support even more Pacific young people towards success.”
The PGF announcement is a welcome investment for our Pacific communities in regional New Zealand, he adds.