New Zealand's wealthiest philanthropists and community trusts are being urged to link up with local employers to create jobs for unemployed young people.
Australian consultant Dave Turner told a Philanthropy NZ conference in Auckland that if all the country's philanthropic trusts and foundations worked together, they could lead a campaign to cut youth unemployment from 3.4 times the adult rate to match the "world's best practice" of Switzerland, where the youth rate is only 2.2 times the adult rate.
A record 470 philanthropists and experts are attending the conference to share notes on both investing money and giving it away. The three themes are youth employment, reducing inequality and protecting the environment.
Young people suffered much more than older workers in the recent recession. A 2011 report found that people aged 15 to 24 made up a bigger share of total unemployment here than in any other OECD nation.
Despite near-record general employment rates today, 9 per cent of young people aged 15 to 24 are still unemployed and looking for work compared with 3.5 per cent of people aged 25 to 64.
Mr Turner, a consultant to Sir Stephen Tindall's Tindall Foundation, said Switzerland's apprenticeship system employed 70 per cent of all teenagers aged 15 to 19 working three days a week in industry and studying two days in the classroom. The other 30 per cent of teens stayed in an academic stream heading for university.
Moreover, 91 per cent of the apprentices completed their apprenticeships, compared with 43 per cent in Australia, because employers supported them.
"Any [Swiss] employer who takes on an apprentice or trainee must have someone in that organisation with skills and training in nurturing young people. Parents must believe it's a safe place to send my 16-year-old," he said.
"Why couldn't all the trusts and foundations in New Zealand say our target is a [youth-to-adult unemployment] ratio of 2.2?" he asked.
Jennifer Gill of the country's biggest philanthropic trust, the $1.1 billion former ASB Community Trust now called Foundation North, said her trust funded a Maori and Pacific trade training scheme now being extended from south to west Auckland, Trades At School.
Rotary NZ past chairman Stuart Heal said Rotary clubs were involved in youth workplace awards and would also be keen to help any youth employment initiative.
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