The new interim employment recovery strategy for the Bay of Plenty is being Co-Chaired by Te Puna Ora O Mataatua’s CEO Dr Chris Tooley, a local Eastern Bay of Plenty Charitable Trust that provides health and social services to the Mataatua community.

The launch of Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs) was announced in September last year and it has now been refocussed in an announcement today by Minister Willie Jackson as an important part of the COVID-19 response and recovery phase.

The Bay of Plenty RSLG region covers Mataatua (Eastern Bay of Plenty) , Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupō. The interim Co-Chairs are Te Puna Ora O Mataatua’s CEO Dr Chris Tooley and Andrea Blair, President of the International Geothermal Association. The group provides a cross-section of expertise, industry, culture and locality, across the whole Bay of Plenty/Waiariki area. 

Dr Tooley says an approach that brings in transparency, accuracy and equity is vital to employment recovery for our region. “At the doorstop of a recession and with business closures and layoffs announced across a number of industries, it’s important to coordinate all the available resources to minimise the ongoing impact .” 

The group’s broad strategy will look at the entire pipeline of employment – from the current landscape of recent redundancies and long term unemployment, to pastoral care and bridging programmes to tertiary education and apprenticeships to ultimately placements in new sustainable jobs. 

Dr Tooley says enhancing collaboration and coordinating all the work across the region—from each of the different government agencies councils, community services, training providers and employers, PGF investments—in going to be one of the main tasks.” 

The group will bring together industry leaders, economic development agencies, worker representatives, iwi and government, to understand workforce and skills needs for the region. This empowers the whole community to be involved in the creation and implementation of a regional plan that works locally. 

Dr Chris Tooley says equity is going to be essential component of this planning. “Our economic forecast suggests that job losses are going to be disproportionately Māori, and so we need a plan to make sure that our employment recovery is fair and reflects the needs of the whole Bay of Plenty. 

Part of ensuring this will be taking a partnership approach and ensuring decisions are being made by Māori that affect their communities.” 

Plans are being developed to launch an employment expo and roadshow to deliver wraparound employment services to urban and rural areas across the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Updates on this initiative will be released via the Te Puna Ora O Mataatua Website and Facebook page.