Christchurch $3000 job incentive nets 50

TIM FULTON
Last updated 05:00 10/07/2014
Sam O'Carroll
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
SOLID START: Sam O’Carroll at his new job at Concrete Structures in Rolleston. O’Carroll received a $3000 grant to relocate to Canterbury.

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Jobless in Wellington and with a $3000 carrot dangling, the lure of the south proved too tempting for Sam O'Carroll.

The 20-year-old from Hutt Valley is one of the first 50 beneficiaries of a $3000 government grant to relocate to Canterbury for fulltime work.

Last month, Work and Income had about 1000 vacancies in the Christchurch area on its books.

This year's Budget funded a shift for up to 1000 workers. Among them was O'Carroll, who had been frustrated at not being able to crack a job despite experience in warehousing.

He was already hunting for work in Canterbury when his mother suggested he apply for the $3000 scheme. He now works at Concrete Structures in Rolleston.

O'Carroll treated the money as a "bonus", given he was already committed to moving south.

The funds had been spent on bedding, furniture, rent and a car.

"It's not money to save. It's money to help you", he said.

"It's quite fair that [the Government] are giving something back to people who are making an effort to come down [to Canterbury]."

In Wellington, O'Carroll had applied for dozens of jobs but struggled to get a look-in. A friend then told him to try down south.

He initially stayed with a family friend in Christchurch but moved to a flat in Riccarton when he was accepted for the $3000 grant.

At Concrete Structures, O'Carroll has been making beams for the new Ashley River bridge near Rangiora. The staff of eight are mostly out-of-towners, having joined the Canterbury branch of the nationwide business when it opened late last year.

The incentive scheme, which has been costed at $3.5 million, has so far moved 40 men and 10 women off benefits and into work in Christchurch. Jobs had been found in construction, transport, healthcare and retail.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said more than 2000 jobseekers throughout New Zealand had indicated a willingness to move to Canterbury if they could get jobs. Of those, 22 per cent were under 25.

The Government reserves the right to recoup its $3000 if an applicant is justifiably dismissed.

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Work and Income national commissioner Carl Crafar said an applicant would get the benefit of the doubt if there were "conflicting evidence and the reason for leaving employment is not clear".

He expected most of the scheme's workers would be employed in Christchurch but the initiative also applied to the Ashburton, Hurunui, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

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MSD said at the launch of the scheme there was a low likelihood of beneficiaries moving solely so they could claim the $3000. O'Carroll believed more people would sign up if they knew about it.

- The Press

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