SEARCHING for a job can be tough at the best of times, but when you're a single mum and have been trying to find a job for two years, it can seem impossible.
That's why newly employed mum Helen Maher is elated.
After two years and several knockbacks, the former teacher's aid finally found exactly what she wanted, working in an administration role at Beach & Bush Distributors in Goonellabah.
"It's a great place to work," she said.
Mrs Maher found her position with the help of North Coast employment and training organisation NORTEC, which has been running an annual campaign to fill 1000 local jobs in 100 days.
Now in day 82, it has placed 870 jobs across its 16 offices from Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads, with 380 placements from Evans Head north and as far west as Casino and Kyogle.
This is the third year of the 1000 jobs campaign and its success has been recognised by the Federal Government and emulated by other agencies across Australia.
"I was applying for everything - I just wanted to get back into the workforce, because I'm a single parent," said Ms Maher. "My placement officer Sam was great. She was always helping to find me different things and kept encouraging me. I had no skills beforehand in completing a job selection criteria. Sam showed me how easy it was."
Ms Maher's new colleague Cameron Ison is also over the moon - NORTEC also helped him find his first full-time position after supporting him to get a forklift and truck-driving tickets.
NORTEC marketing co-ordinator Michelle Dowding said industries in which jobs were found included retail and hospitality, administration, community services (aged care, commun- ity support services, child care) and labouring.