No jobs in the North?
It's a myth, says a man who takes people off the benefit and puts them into work.
Gary Hack from the Stepping into Employment - Bay of Islands Employment Training Programme runs a 12-week scheme at Kawakawa that's been putting people into jobs since he created it in 2005.
"Our problem is not unemployment - our problem is unemployables," he says.
The service, backed by the Ministry of Social Development and free to its clients, is among those established to address the region's 9.5 per cent unemployment rate - one of the highest in the country.
Mr Hack says Work and Income referrals who show up at his classes are often unprepared to look for work and don't know how or where to begin their search.
Success stories include former client Hayley Williams who has been working at Kiwibank in Paihia for the past five months.
She says she was sceptical when she entered Mr Hack's programme but soon learned the importance of upskilling and how to sell her services to employers.
She says finding the right job took some dedication but she's happy with how things turned out.
"It was a little bit difficult," she says.
"There were a lot of employment opportunities but none that I was particularly interested in."
She gave a number of different jobs a go, volunteering for the experience, before landing her position at the bank.
Mr Hack is committed to getting people into the work they want and says the hospitality sector has extra special potential. But many of the jobs it offers are being snapped up by international visitors with superior skills.
"There is a huge void in our community for people with cooking skills, to work in the industry, bar managing and front-of-house in restaurants."
Nancy Tewake is the new hospitality tutor at Stepping Into Employment.
She started on July 1 and has already placed four former beneficiaries into positions.
The programme aims to put 60 to 70 per cent of its clients into jobs but Mr Hack says he's helped close to 100 per cent to find work.
Call Mr Hack at 09 404 0120 for information or email stepping-into-employment@ xtra.co.nz
- © Fairfax NZ News