With the big OE still out of reach for many of New Zealand’s twentysomethings, a new initiative is promising to give young city-dwellers a wholly different life experience – a rural one.
Think Rural is the brainchild of LGNZ’s Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ), with funding from the Ministry of Social Development. The central idea is to attract young people from cities to rural areas where there is a wealth of jobs on offer – and give them a chance to experience a new way of life, packed with adventure, excitement and opportunity.
Max Baxter, Mayor of Ōtorohanga District Council, who has helped spearhead the Think Rural campaign which launched today, says that many young people living in cities have never experienced rural life, and they’ll be surprised by what they find.
“The nightlife in the country is wild – and I mean that literally. Traffic jams involve ewes rather than utes. The local folk are friendly as anything. The jobs are aplenty. Housing is still cheap. Plus, young people cooped up in apartments at Level 3 might find the country life more to their liking, where the only thing in a coop is a chicken,” says Max.
“From farming to forestry, being a barrister or barista, working in a deli or dentistry, there’s a host of jobs in rural areas that are crying out for fresh talent. Whether you have a PhD, trade qualifications or left school early, think rural.”
Noa Woolloff, National Programme Manager of MTFJ, is 23 and no stranger to carving out his own path. After leaving school, he jumped at the chance of supporting young people to get into employment, taking up leadership roles straight off the bat.
“Many people don’t give rangatahi the chance to prove themselves – and for me, getting where I am is largely because of the support I’ve had from community leaders in different places. Think Rural has the backing of rural mayors who are lining up to make a difference in the lives of young people without jobs or qualifications.”
Eighteen rural councils up and down the country are getting behind the Think Rural scheme in the hope of drawing a younger crowd. They are Ōpōtiki, Ōtorohanga, Central Hawke’s Bay, Chatham Islands, Gore, Ruapehu, Waimate, Westland, Wairoa, Hurunui, Tararua, Grey, Rangitikei, Clutha, Hauraki, Mackenzie and Buller.
The target set for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs is getting 1,150 young people into sustainable employment with funding support of up to $500,000 going to rural councils (population 20,000 or less) to aid their efforts.
Wannabe rural-dwellers can find the right community for them on www.thinkrural.co.nz. The site gives the skinny on each participating town and directs people to available jobs.