Unemployed women in South Canterbury should become truckies and tradies to get off benefits, according to Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew.
The most recent data from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) showed 2802 people receiving benefits, 1739 of them women.
Overall, 2137 people have been on a benefit for more than a year.
Goodhew said women needed to change their perception on what jobs they could do.
"I know there is a need for truck drivers.
"There are currently only a small percentage of women drivers but the few that there are, are quite good," she said.
Goodhew called on women to retrain into the areas where the employment was; especially driving or trades. "Why can't they?" she said.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean hoped Aoraki Polytechnic was paying attention. "If I was the polytechnic I would be having a look at those figures and seeing what they can do to cater to this group of women."
Dean said it was an attractive group of employees as they were usually at a stable point in their lives and had some skills behind them.
"It is reasonable to assume they would be looking to upskill at the moment to re-enter the workforce.
"It is a great opportunity for the polytechnic to look at."
Aoraki Polytechnic chief executive Alex Cabrera said it worked closely with MSD to run programmes that developed the skills needed in the local community.
The courses focused on the needs of its students and the outcomes it wanted to achieve, he said.
Timaru District Mayor Damon Odey said: "There are lots of progressive companies in South Canterbury and hopefully we should be able to match up the people needing work and those looking."
BY THE NUMBERS
1226 people in South Canterbury receive the supported living payment, which is for caregivers and those severely restricted or unable to work on a long-term basis because of a health disability.
881 people are on the jobseekers benefit, which is for people looking for work, and those who can't work momentarily because of a health condition, injury or disability.
657 are on the sole parent support, for parents with children under the age of 14.
- The Timaru Herald