South Auckland employers are to be linked up with schools to provide work experience and mentoring for students who need help to get jobs.
Two local boards in Otara-Papatoetoe and Mangere-Otahuhu have employed two fulltime workers to bring employers and schools together.
The first employee, Briar Tuialii, started work at Auckland Council yesterday.
The boards have also installed interactive kiosks providing career information in the Otara and Papatoetoe libraries.
The initiatives are the first tangible outcomes of a two-year, $1.35 million Youth Connections scheme unveiled in May by the Auckland Council, with funding from the Tindall Foundation and Auckland Airport Community Trust.
The scheme, also backed by the national Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, aims to help young people who have borne the brunt of the recession. A sixth (16.9 per cent) of New Zealanders aged 20-24 were not in employment, education or training (neet) in the year to June.
Otara-Papatoetoe local board chairman John McCracken, a former police officer with two teenage children, said his board put some of its discretionary funding into activating the scheme.
"We are all parents," he said.
"We have all sat in front of schoolteachers with the report card saying little Johnny fits into this big band in the middle that 60 to 70 per cent seem to fit into, but no one is ever prepared to tell you whether you are the lower end or the higher end of that band.
"You go away thinking he's normal, and then you can't understand why they are not reading properly and why they are struggling with maths, and you send them to Kip McGrath and you find out your child is one to two years behind where they should be."
He hopes the new scheme will give students work experience so that they "understand why trigonometry is important if you want to be a carpenter".
Hunters Corner Town Centre Society chairman Pat Taylor said local business associations and Rotary clubs were keen to be involved.
Kim Kohere, careers adviser at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara, said her students did not have wide life experiences and she had found it difficult to make links with employers.
"These children need those life experiences," she said.
"They need to be able to go into industry to find out exactly what a panelbeater does or a dairy farmer or a horticulturist."
Papatoetoe High School deputy principal Karen Dobric said the two key needs were business mentoring for students and better transport links.
"Often we say to students, 'here's a great private training establishment', and they say, 'how do I get there?"'