As we enter our second week of lockdown, many of us are adjusting to the new normal of working remotely, while others have been unable to work in any capacity.
Based on insights from Infometrics and Stats NZ, we estimate that out of our 16,263 strong workforce, 8,149 Coasters are still working in some form - either working remotely or as ‘essential workers’.
This means under lockdown around half of our workforce is currently unable to work in any capacity. The worst hit sectors are Accommodation and Food services with a possible 1,767 people currently unable to work, Construction: 1,452, Manufacturing: 925 and Retail trade: 769.
For many Coast businesses this inability to operate is having a dramatic toll - not just on their business but on their wellbeing.
At DWC, our staff are busy working with local businesses through their current needs and exploring how we can more directly support businesses through this difficult time. We are also working on strategies and projects to get the Coast economy back on its feet once the lockdown is lifted.
In other news, the West Coast will be receiving Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) support of $2.08m to run a Te Ara Mahi project - ‘The West Coast Regional Employment Scheme’ which will be run with support from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). The government recognises the need for continued support for the region and the Provincial Development Unit has been instrumental in getting this project across the line.
This will be an employment and training programme targeted at skill shortage areas across the Coast. The programme will fit West Coast businesses seeking to create new positions with specific training tailored to jobs, as well as the upskilling of existing employees to new positions. Under the scheme businesses will be able to apply for subsidies to help create new jobs and take on additional workers.
Another project we are working on, in conjunction with MSD and other regional development agencies, is setting up a regional employment hub to facilitate getting available workers into much-needed employment once the lockdown is lifted.
Our tourism team is also hard at work formulating a domestic tourism campaign for when travel restrictions are lifted. There is also a large piece of work to be carried out looking at the future of tourism on the West Coast and how we can adjust to a very different visitor profile in the future.
We need to ensure our economy is in the best possible position to get up and running once the lockdown is removed.
As the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving, so too is the Government’s response to businesses. There are a number of Government support packages aimed at addressing short-term cashflow needs, with further support packages potentially in the pipeline.
Applications are now open at Retail Banks for the Government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses. And a new leave scheme for essential workers will be available from Monday.
Please let us know what you are experiencing so we can continue to advocate to Government on your behalf.
This is a very challenging time for many in our business community, but I want to reassure you the team at DWC is here to support you and advocate for you. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Media Release: 2 April 2020