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Youth employment strategy seeks to create new opportunities

21 October 2016, Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald

Project working to boost regional youth employment.

A REGIONAL strategy developed to boost youth employment has set out half a dozen goals to help employers fill up to 3000 job roles with local talent over the next five years. 

Following a series of public workshops involving local employers, education experts and Gisborne high school students, Activate Tairawhiti has presented its draft youth employment strategy to key stakeholders.

“Key sectors including horticulture, forestry, engineering, transport and trucking, and tourism, have identified a combined total of more than 3000 new jobs coming on-stream in our region within the next five years”, said Activate Tairawhiti economic development project manager Kim Holland.

“With the projected skills and labour shortages, it’s important for the education and training sectors, and our young people, to have the opportunities to connect to industry and employers.

Ms Holland said it was essential the region develop its own talent to meet the needs of local industry and employers.

“Activate Tairawhiti is working with key stakeholders to identify the opportunities and the barriers, develop a strategy and turn that strategy into actions that can be successfully implemented to increase youth employment.”

Ms Holland said the strategy had identified six goals.

Those were to first ensure the sustainability of the strategy, by sourcing funding and encouraging collaboration between providers.

In the same week as the Salvation Army releases its What Next? report expressing concern at the lack of apprenticeship programmes available to the nation’s youth, two goals of the youth employment strategy focused on growing effective apprenticeship programmes here.

Increase opportunities

Those goals would be to increase the opportunities and achievement across apprenticeships and industry-based training for the region’s young people, as well as to increase the number of employers involved in apprenticeships and on-the-job training, and ensure employers here were “youth-friendly”.

The strategy would also aim to ensure consistent and valuable work experience for students and employers, along with establishing a regional policy for work placements for all secondary and tertiary students, as well as strengthening and growing the partnerships between industry, employers, schools and students.

In addition, the strategy would create a “virtual youth space” as a forum for information, communication and as a showcase for success stories.

“A youth employment advisory group has already been established, with a number of young people from school, tertiary and in employment who want to have input.

“Activate is working with stakeholders to develop specific actions, and who will lead them over the coming months.

Work is under way to ensure that the strategy reflects the culture and values of our community, before it’s finalised and launched.”

Ms Holland said one of those actions would be the innovative Licence to Work programme, following its success in South Auckland, Taranaki and Northland.

“For a region with an estimated unemployment rate of 21.5 percent among those under 25, these are extremely positive developments.

“However, many local employers are saying that young people are not ready for work, and lack employability skills.

"Young people identified that a lack of confidence, experience, support and motivation were barriers to their employability.”

More than 300 Auckland students took part in the licence to work programme last year. It helps students from all walks of life to learn employability skills such as attitude, work ethic and resilience, enabling them to be ready for work.

The course requires students to complete 80 hours with an employer and 20 hours of community service before they are presented with their formal licence to work certificate in October.

“Licence to Work has been developed to give youth and employers a way to develop, assess, and verify an individual’s employability skills. The programme includes volunteer/community work as well as a work placement to ensure that young people develop the skills (and experiences) they require, in a positive work environment.”

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