Two Northland programmes designed to get unemployed youth into jobs have received more than $1.2million in Government funding.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson has been in Northland this week dishing out cash from He Poutama Rangatahi - a Government initiative that invests in programmes which provide support for rangatahi who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

On Monday Jackson announced He Poutama Rangatahi will invest over $400,000 into the Eco Toa initiative - a five-month intensive programme which will train South Hokianga and Kaikohe rangatahi - who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) - in pest control, weed eradication, riparian planting and forestry silviculture.

Meanwhile yesterday in Whangārei he announced $880,000 over two and a half years for Whangārei Youth Space's (WYS) START programme which is designed to get young people into jobs with a focus on getting whānau on board too.

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"Empowering rangatahi to be actively involved in their community and society is one of the most important investments we can make," Jackson said.

"Projects like these are all part of the Government's wider efforts to tackle youth unemployment in the regions."

Employment Minister Willie Jackson announcing $880,000 over two and a half years for Whangārei Youth Space's (WYS) START programme. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Employment Minister Willie Jackson announcing $880,000 over two and a half years for Whangārei Youth Space's (WYS) START programme. Photo/Michael Cunningham

For the December 2018 quarter, the Ministry of Social Development Household Labour Force Survey showed the NEET rate for 15 to 19-year-olds was 11 per cent and the rate for 20 to 24-year-olds was 13.5 per cent, down from 36 per cent in 2015.

Bernie Burrell, WYS general manager, and Ryan Donaldson, WYS service development lead, said they were over the moon to have the funding to get youth in to jobs.

"We are just so excited for our young people, it is fantastic," Burrell said.

"This is stuff we dream about wanting to do with our young people. To be able to now have a commitment to do this is massive," Donaldson said.

Whangārei Youth Space general manager Bernie Burrell said $880,000 for the START programme was fantastic. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Whangārei Youth Space general manager Bernie Burrell said $880,000 for the START programme was fantastic. Photo/Michael Cunningham

The WYS START programme - START an acronym for support, training, action, relationships, and transition - starts in July and will support 10 young people during each six-month period, supporting a total of 40 young people over a 2.5 year period.

The programme is underpinned by one-on-one mentoring and pastoral care by kaimahi (mentors) who will help the rangatahi be work-ready - which will include helping them prepare documents like birth certificates through to teaching them interview skills - and then get them into jobs.

Donaldson said there will also be a focus on ensuring whānau are on board.

"Where we can see a real gap when it comes to these programmes is that all the support has gone to the young person but when they go home to their own environment it's a totally different story.

"So if we're able to help influence that whānau life, then hopefully we can start to see some change not only in the young person but also whānau supporting that young person to go on and change the world."

Ryan Donaldson, Whangārei Youth Space service development lead, said it was important that this programme supported the young person as well as their whānau. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Ryan Donaldson, Whangārei Youth Space service development lead, said it was important that this programme supported the young person as well as their whānau. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Burrell said there are various ways they will find the young people for the programme including working with other organisations like Ministry of Social Development.

She said how the programme would look would differ from person to person.

"It's very much driven by the young person's need. There's not going to be one formula for the programme it's very individualised."

Last month He Poutama Rangatahi received $13.2m from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), which has already seen more than $100m invested in Northland.

Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones said he was glad the PGF could support such worthy initiatives.

"Our regions can thrive only when the people living in them have training and employment opportunities to help them get ahead, and these sorts of initiatives give regional businesses confidence that as they grow, there will be local people ready to take on the jobs they create."