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The Tiny New Zealand Town That’s Bucking Global Unemployment Trends

Others struggle to find jobs close enough to where they live to make working there a viable choice

In many western countries, long-term job seekers are finding that they are in competition with a high number of other equally or better-qualified candidates for each position they apply for. Whatever the reason, the number of people actively seeking paid employment is on the rise worldwide, making it a global economic problem. But one small New Zealand town in the Clutha district, near the coast of South Otago, is bucking the global trend by having the exact opposite problem.

Bryan Cadogan, mayor of the Clutha district, announced in June that Kaitangata had 1,000 open job vacancies, and the town was in dire need of more residents to meet the demand for workers. Data from the 2006 census showed that Kaitangata had a resident population of 810, but by 2013 the number of people habitually resident in the town had fallen to 762. It’s no surprise, then, that according to Cadogan, youth unemployment is now down to two – and that’s not 2%, he actually states that Kaitangata only has two young unemployed people living there!

So desperate are the employers in the town to attract potential employees to come and settle there, they have hatched a plan to tempt people in. Job seekers willing to relocate and work in Kaitangata could bag themselves a tasty package including a house and land in the area for the equivalent of £122,000.

The package, the brainchild of a local promotions society formed from the former ratepayers association, is even more attractive considering that New Zealand is facing a housing crisis, which has made owning a property a distant pipe dream for many Kiwis. One of the employers leading the unusual campaign, Evan Dick, a dairy farmer, noted that the scheme would allow people to live the Kiwi dream in an “old-fashioned community” that was waiting with open arms.

Dick has not only put together an enticing house and land package, he also has lawyers, the bank and community services primed and ready to ensure the move goes smoothly. And he’s wise to invest so much time and money into getting people to move closer to his business – at the moment, employers in the scenic town have no alternative but to bring workers in from another town every day on a one hour bus journey.

A report published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) earlier this year projected that global unemployment would rise in both 2016 and 2017, continuing the worldwide job crisis despite falling unemployment levels in some developed countries.

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