Scheme targets taste of work for all youth

By Lawrence Gullery

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A pilot programme which put students into work experience roles will continue in 2013 with the long-term goal of having 100 per cent of Hawke's Bay's young people in education, training and employment.

The Youth Futures Advisory Group was set up six months ago with the aim of harnessing the potential of the region's youth population.

Its two-year plan included identifying staffing requirements, job opportunities and connecting with school leavers as well as supporting young unemployed people.

Hastings District Council's economic and social development manager Steve Breen, in his report to the council's Maori Committee, said employers were experiencing skills shortages because more people were moving offshore and older workers retiring. At the same time, young people were struggling to find work and to use employment to build their skills and experience.

The Youth Futures Group was meeting the challenge and by the end of 2012 more than 50 students from six Hastings secondary schools would have completed work experience placements at the council, MWH Global, Unison Contracting, Furnware, Tumu Group, Tumu Timbers and Westpac Bank.

The Youth Futures Group had also promoted a careers expo and workchoice day with Napier City Council and published a booklet aimed at attracting larger employers to the initiative. Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said the programme was modelled on one started in Otorohanga, King Country, by its mayor Dale Williamson. "It's a pretty lofty target we have set but we saw no other way to provide opportunities for our young people because there is the risk of them going to other regions or offshore." The council's decision to approach firms for the work experience placements on behalf of young people had proved successful. "They (employers) understand the situation and we hope to get more involved next year. If you look at it, most people would like employment close to where their families and friends are and this seeks to allow career pathways to partner with public and private sectors in Hawke's Bay."

A lack of employment and education options were also two of the major themes in a survey conducted by the Hastings Youth Council to help write a new Youth Strategy this year.

"This is really part of a bigger issue around the dynamics of the workforce where we are going to need more and more young people over the next 20 years but there's a possibility they're not going to be there in the numbers they are now."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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