Workforce . . . Closing the Gaps Coordinator Mark McCann (left) em ployer Kim McDowall and employee Hope Cross, employer Paige Walker and employee Karla Graves and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks are pleased with the programme’s results. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A programme to help people find work is set to receive $250,000 of Government funding next month after earning its keep in the early stages.

Closing the Gaps will receive the funds after initial funding of $250,000 helped 25 people into the workforce this year.

The programme targets young people and those dealing with Covid-19-related job loss.

It is a joint venture between the Gore District Council, the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs, Ministry of Social Development and Hokonui Huanui.

Council community strategy manager Anne Pullar and Closing the Gaps co-ordinator Mark McCann explained the funding to councillors while delivering a report on the programme in a Gore District Council community strategy meeting on March 18.

The number 25 was significant, Ms Pullar said.

“That now enables us to access another $250,000 which enables us to support another 25 businesses before the end of June.”

However, there was still pressure to succeed.

”If we only get to 45, we have to give back [$50,000],

“All along there’s these points we have to manoeuvre through.”

A Closing the Gaps survey of 98 businesses in the Gore area found 88% were either hiring or planning to hire new staff, Mr McCann said.

“That was really encouraging.”

Closing the Gaps offered up to $6000 for each new employee at a business, he said.

“That can be spent on a number of things including training, laptops .. barista courses, first aid courses and even subsidised wages.”

“There can be even more funding that they’re eligible for on top of that.”

Councillor Glenys Dickson questioned whether it would be as easy for the next 25 people to gain employment through the programme.

“Is it going to be quite difficult now or is there still a lot of businesses you can approach?” Cr Dickson asked.

Ms Pullar said they would continue their scoping strategy.

“There’s some larger employers in [farming] that we haven’t really tapped into [and] there’s still construction and building and engineering.”