Keeps career prospects and businesses open
Mayors Taskforce for Jobs
23 March 2021
Fox Glacier man Jacob, 22, was working as a Glacier Guide when Covid-19 hit New Zealand. It instantly changed the outlook of his career in international tourism. At the same time local restaurateur Erica McClintock was having her own struggles, a new restaurant about to open but major uncertainty about whether its tables would ever be filled.
During peak season the remote West Coast township hosts a population of around 400 residents. The main street buzzes with tour buses and visitors coming to marvel at the majestic river of ice, as it plunges through native bush toward the Tasman Sea. As the opening day of Betsey Jane Restaurant approached so too did the global pandemic, Erica found herself in limbo with a restaurant on the brink of opening while a nation was preparing to close down.
Despite the economic uncertainty Erica took a leap of faith and continued with her dream of serving food to hungry visitors at her restaurant near the picture perfect reflections of nearby Lake Matheson. The business is a relatively small operation employing four staff to cover the dinner shift seven nights a week. One of those is now Jacob. But it’s been a bit of a journey to get this far. When his tourism job was effected by the closing of the borders, his supportive boss’ offered casual work placements through DOC’s Jobs for Nature, but at heart a ‘people person’ Jacob knew he needed a career that suited his personality and that he would want to continue into the future; beyond Covid. He took a temporary farming position while he figured out his next step. When that work dried up he approached Erica, who he had previously worked with making burgers at the local farmers’ market and A & P show. With local tourism trickling in she now needed staff, but didn’t feel confident about taking someone new on as alerts levels and lockdown threatened to flip her open sign to closed at any moment. Then Erica found out about the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs through a business contact. While hesitant about accepting assistance from MTFJ she eventually realised that it would be good for her, good for Jacob and give him the option to stay in his hometown rather than seek work elsewhere. She accepted the offer of a small amount of funding to fill two new employment positions. For Jacob too, it’s the perfect fit. With the assistance of the Westland MTFJ he not only has a job, but is upskilling and improving his future career prospects. He’s now completed three nationally accredited courses in Food Safety, Baristry and Liquor Licencing.
The Westland Mayors Taskforce for Jobs opened applications in September 2020 and has supported over 70 employment opportunities to date. For more information on eligibility and applying for funding see our website.
Photo by Betsy Jane Restaurant