Since its inception in the middle of last year, the Tararua Youth Guarantee Community Partnership has been concentrating on developing partnerships between the district's two secondary schools, local businesses and education and training organisations. Part of the Government's Youth Guarantee initiative, the partnership is helping enable young people gain essential foundation qualifications and further education and training opportunities on their journey to employment.
"The Alliance meatworks has been a strong supporter of this initiative since it began," plant manager Brendan Poole said. "We see this as an opportunity to engage with the community at large, young people and their educators to better prepare young people for the world of work. It will also hopefully ensure an employment pipeline for our industry."
Recently, Alliance hosted a group of young people from Tararua Youth Services, Dannevirke High School and Tararua College, to show them what work opportunities are available and what it is like to work in a factory.
"It was a real eye-opener, both from our perspective and that of the young folks," Mr Poole said. "Two young people got jobs on the spot and one other was given a job a few days later."
For Jeanne O'Brien, manager of Tararua Community Youth Services, it was wonderful to see three people who would otherwise not have jobs now employed.
"And the rest of those who went from Youth Services came back really motivated to get themselves more work-ready and are very keen to work. It was a great experience for them and we are very grateful Alliance provided this opportunity," she said.
Dawid de Villiers, principal of Dannevirke High School, said one of the students from his school who attended decided he didn't want to work at Alliance, but instead of leaving school, he wants to "pull his finger out" and return to Year 13 so he can leave school better qualified.
"This is a great outcome for this young man," Dr de Villiers said.
"The more businesses open to having conversations of this nature with young people about what it's like to have a job, the more work-ready our young people will become."
Glynis de Castro, principal of Tararua College, who accompanied her students to the works, was also full of praise for the initiative shown by Alliance.
"It was a great opportunity to see a business in action and learn more about the real world of employment," she said
"I hope other businesses, particularly in the southern part of the district, follow Alliance's lead and provide more such opportunities to show our young people options for their vocational pathways. It complements the work both secondary schools are doing to improve opportunities for the young people of the district."
And this won't be the last time Alliance will open its doors to students.
"We'll do it again," Mr Poole said.
"I am sure news of this first group's experience has got to other young people and I look forward to another opportunity. In the meantime, I would encourage my colleagues in other industries to do the same. You won't have 100 per cent success, but you will make a difference to the lives of our young people."