PRIME Minister Jacinda Ardern is shown around Tunnicliffe Timber by Mana in Mahi participant Tipene van den Anker (left) and business owner Scott McCabe. Photo Troy Baker D8832-022

MORE young New Zealanders, including those in Edgecumbe, will be helped into work and training with a boost in funding for the Mana in Mahi programme.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Employment Minister Willie Jackson made the announcement at Tunnicliffe Timber in Edgecumbe yesterday.

The Mana in Mahi programme was launched a year ago and Tunnicliffe Timber has already employed a 19-year-old through the scheme, which subsides wages and employment costs.

Ms Arden and Mr Jackson were in Edgecumbe to announce a $49.9 million boost in funding that will extend the number of places available on the scheme from 150 up to 2000, with an end goal of 4000 places.

Tipene van den Anker was one of the first participants in the Mana in Mahi programme from the Eastern Bay and has been working at Tunnicliffe Timber for eight months.

Mr van den Anker said before that he had been sitting at home on the couch and it was good to have a job and some financial security.

He told Ms Ardern that he was planning to take his mum away on holiday with some of his earnings.

When Tunnicliffe owners Liz and Mark Andrew and Hillary and Scott McCabe bought the Edgecumbe business they had a goal of employing as many young people from the local area as possible.

They now have two young employees through the CadetMax programme, a partnership with Work and Income and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, as well as Mr van den Anker from Mana in Mahi.

“It is a passion of ours to employ young people and supply them with that financial security and training,” Mrs Andrew said.

“Before we bought the business, we all came from workplaces which had a really good culture and we wanted to recreate that here in this business.”

Mrs Andrew said young people such as Mr van den Anker brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the job as well as being more physically able to work in a lumber yard.

“It is really rewarding to employ these young people and watch them learn and grow. Mana in Mahi has been instrumental in helping us make that happen – we’re like the little engine that could.”

Ms Ardern said the scheme had been taken up by small businesses with less than 20 employees and it was to employ local people in local jobs.

She said it could be hard for employers to take on young employees as there was a high cost associated with training them.

Through the Mana in Mahi scheme employers receive the equivalent of the job seekers benefit for up to one year to offset the young person’s wages while they are training.

“It makes good sense,” she said.

“We take young people off the job seekers benefit and into a job and instead give that money to the employer. It’s a win-win.”

Before making the announcement, Ms Ardern and Mr Jackson were given a tour of the Tunnicliffe timber yard and, following the announcement, Ms Ardern picked up lunch from the Edgecumbe Bakehouse before paying a visit to Te Kohanga Reo o Te Teko.

charlotte.jones@thebeacon.co.nz