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Not your typical mayor

Dale Williams shares secrets for helping youth

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 13:43 04/09/2013
Dale Williams
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
Otorohanga District Mayor Dale Williams was in Invercargill yesterday speaking about how to lower youth unemployment rates.

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When the chairman of the careers and transition educators group went to pick up its guest speaker from Invercargill Airport yesterday he could not spot him.

Chris Baker searched all over the airport looking for Otorohanga District Mayor Dale Williams, but no-one he saw looked like a typical town mayor.

That is because Williams, the mayor of the North Island town, does not wear a suit and tie. Instead, he sports a bright sleeve tattoo and a green beanie.

He may not look like a mayor, but the 52-year-old has been achieving great things in his town.

That success meant he was asked to share his secrets with the Invercargill group and others dealing with young people in Southland.

Mr Williams has managed to lower youth unemployment in Otorohanga by engaging the whole community.

The secret behind the success was involving businesses, schools and the council, learning what companies had jobs available and helping young people into those jobs, he said.

The scheme had worked in Otorohanga, and it had transformed the town, he said.

While it was not necessarily the role of a local council to find jobs for young people, mayors needed to invest in their local young people because they were the future of the town, he said.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt attended the talk and said it was "very inspiring".

While young people were the future of Invercargill, he was not convinced the scheme could be applied here because of the large industries in the town.

Mr Baker said the group asked Mr Williams to address local agencies because youth unemployment was a problem and he had lots of ideas that could be used in Invercargill.

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- The Southland Times

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