Vivian Hutchinson

Unemployed People Have a Greater Need to Understand Our Economic System Than Most People

vivian Hutchinson

is a community activist and social entrepreneur based in Taranaki, New ZealandHe supports projects and activities that have the potential to make a fundamental difference to our social, economic, environmental and cultural challenges.


Employment Activist


vivian Hutchinson has been one of the pioneers in community-based action for jobs in New Zealand, especially in establishing programmes for the support and education of unemployed people.

Since the 1980s, he has been involved in establishing an variety of practical training programmes for the out-of-work, leading community workshops and gatherings on the future of work, and promoting positive community action on employment issues.

vivian worked for seven years for the Salvation Army, managing their community employment programmes in the Taranaki region. He went on to become a founding trustee of the Taranaki Work Trust, and part of the team that created the innovative Starting Point Employment Resource Centre, the Skills of Enterprise Business Courses, the Enterprise Centre and New Venture Workshops.

During this time, vivian was also involved in securing national and local government support for employment initiatives. He helped establish community employment-related sections within the Department of Labour, and he worked with several local authorities in the establishment of their economic development programmes.

vivian has also worked with many New Zealand national networks in his efforts to promote greater co-operation, collaboration and co-ordination between the different agencies and community groups working in the employment field.

In 1994, vivian joined with Jo Howard, Ian Ritchie and Dave Owens to establish the Jobs Research Trust. This led to the creation of The Jobs Letter, a community-based media project which published essential information to help communities create more jobs and reduce unemployment and poverty. The Jobs Letter was produced every 2-3 weeks from 1994 to 2006. 

In 1999, vivian was instrumental in calling together the NZ Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, which worked to ensure that no young person under 25 years will be out of work or training in our communities. This network quickly gained over 95% of the country’s Mayors as members. The Mayors Taskforce secured a partnership with the New Zealand Government to work towards a national goal that all young people under 20 years in New Zealand will be “engaged in appropriate education, training, work, or other options which will lead to long term economic independence and well-being.”

In 2001, vivian established The Employment Catalyst, a philanthropic fund for employment initiatives, which had the backing of The Tindall Foundation. This fund provided matching funding for employment initiatives throughout New Zealand that have been inspired by the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs.

As a Community Adviser to the Taskforce, vivian worked with community groups, Mayors and local authorities in establishing youth employment and apprenticeship programmes. This work has led to a fresh approach to youth transitions from school-to-work, community case management, and youth mentoring ... all designed to “stay in connection” with young people until they are on a positive pathway of employment or further training.

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