With only a couple of months until school's out, a further 600 or so young people in Whanganui are planning their next steps, whether to go on to further education or join the workforce.

Currently Whanganui's youth employment statistics are tracking up compared with the rest of the country.

Jason Shailer from Whanganui youth employment trust 100% Sweet says there is plenty of opportunity in Whanganui.

"We've got an ageing workforce right across Whanganui," Shailer said. "There's a lot of knowledge and skill that's retiring, so I guess for those who have got a succession plan or an employment plan for the future, youth is where it's at."


Jenny Harrison is a business manager at WSP Opus in Whanganui. The company was formed out of the Government's Ministry of Works, and many of the skilled engineers and technicians who were trained through the Ministry of Works are still at WSP Opus today.

"WSP Opus recognised if we didn't start to grow our own next generation of professionals, we would be struggling to fill that space," Harrison said.

With the school system offering increasingly diverse subjects, and the future of work changing rapidly, the onus is shifting to employers to engage youth and take advantage of their knowledge of new technology to secure future growth.

"There is a generation divide," Shailer said. "It's really important for those in the position, such as employers or those able to influence the future, that they understand what that diversity is."

The realisation that employment has a wider impact on the community has inspired the growth of a network of employment initiatives, all trying to close the gap between employers and a population that's ready for work.

"Success in the workplace. It's one of the factors in life that can flow on to your family, it can flow on to your siblings etc. So it's got to be positive for the community."

John Hudson runs a service aimed at reintroducing people to the workplace through work-based experience, with many clients coming from the Ministry of Social Development.

"Often if they've been out of work for a wee while, they start building those callouses of self-doubt," Hudson said.


"We're exploring a concept called Constructive Alignment. Constructive Alignment is actually meeting the individual where the individual is at."

It's another example of the network helping create employment opportunities in Whanganui.

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