The small Otago town with hundreds of jobs waiting

August 28, 2022

For the first story in 1News’ Small Town Series, Maddy Lloyd visits Balclutha where there’s a drive on to attract young people to the area.

Balclutha is South Otago's largest town with a population of just over 4000.

It's the gateway to the Catlins, and home to the attitude there's no work without play.

It's where the customers become friends, and the staff are loyal.

Sonia Hansen has been working at the local New World for 34 years where she's the manager.

"I love the job but I love the people I work with and it's the customers as well," she says.

"The kind of community we live in, everybody knows everybody, it's great"

But despite the laid back lifestyle and abundance of job opportunities, the town is severely short on workers.

"Right at the moment we've got somewhere between 700 and 800 vacancies in the Clutha District" says Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan.

The council is so keen for workers, it's launched a programme using funding from Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and Ministry for Social Development.

Called Jobbortunities, it aims to help rural councils provide assistance to people displaced from their employment under Covid-19.

It provides support with recruitment, workplace training, wage subsidy and help with accommodation.

"Housing is fundamental to everything we have for the district cause we have a huge amount of jobs on offer, but we cant attract the people cause we don't have the housing" says Cadogan.

But developments are full steam ahead- one project already has 80% of sections sold, and and the price point is much more achievable than the main centres.

"Young ones can come down here and get a start, $350,000 for a 3 bedroom turn key house, beautiful sections, beautiful views" says Cadogan"

"It gives young families a chance, you can put your roots down solid, to buy a brand new house for $350,000, that's a start isn't it?" says Cadogan.

That's not the only growth in the town - construction is underway for a new multipurpose business, community and visitor hub.

It'll include an 400+ seat auditorium, office spaces, meeting rooms, facilities for community groups and a war memorial.

The work-life balance is a big selling point too.

"There's so many things to do, we're near the sea, we're near the ski fields we're near the airport so we've got everything" Cadogan says.


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