The Government is putting almost $7 million into getting young Northlanders into jobs and improving their digital, work and life skills training.

The latest tranche of funding for the region from the Provincial Growth Fund was made in announcements in Whangārei and Kaikohe on Friday by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson.

In Whangārei the pair announced $3.88 million for a range of digital, work and life skills training for young unemployed people in Northland, while in Kaikohe they announced $3 million over three years in the Accelerating our Capability programme, which supports Kaikohe locals who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The Whangārei funding includes $2.5 million for He Poutama Taitamariki (HPT); $990,000 for the NGEN Room, run by the He Puna Marama Trust and $396,000 for the Life Talk (Kamo Driving School).

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Raewyn Tipene, CEO of Whangārei Māori school Te Kapehu Whetu, at the PGF announcement at the Northland InnoNative Business Base in Whangārei.
Raewyn Tipene, CEO of Whangārei Māori school Te Kapehu Whetu, at the PGF announcement at the Northland InnoNative Business Base in Whangārei.

Collectively the three programmes will support over 800 rangatahi and will be funded through the He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) programme, which aims to support young people, aged 15 to 24, who are not currently in employment, education or training to overcome barriers to get them into work.

"Both NGEN Room and Life Talk have a digital technology focus. Northland has a number of young people with few or no qualifications, who are interested in the digital sector through gaming but lack basic coding skills or the motivation, confidence or networks required to pursue qualifications or employment in this area," Jones said.

"NGEN Room is a 12-month digital technology programme for 16-24-year-old rangatahi and combines life skills, NCEA credits (level 1-3), and work experience.

"Life Talk is a 12-week programme that builds digital skills within the context of broader life and work skills development, including driver licensing. It combines digital skills training with local web developers, as well as work experience with local employers – both digital and non-digital based on the needs of participants. Both projects also provide ongoing pastoral care to support participants during training and beyond.''

Students welcome the visitors at the PGF Te Ara Mahi announcement at the Northland InnoNative Business Base.
Students welcome the visitors at the PGF Te Ara Mahi announcement at the Northland InnoNative Business Base.

The successful Northland pilot programme, He Poutama Taitamariki (HPT), will receive funding of $2.5 million from HPR to continue its work to improve employment and training outcomes for young people most at risk of long-term unemployment and poor social outcomes for another year. The Ministry of Social Development is also providing $2.7 million in the He Poutama Taitamariki programme.

Jones said the Coalition Government is committed to supporting projects like the Accelerating our Capability programme in Kaikohe to get even more people into training or work.

"The programme will consist of three initiatives in the areas of industry-based training, horticulture and viticulture. The industry-based training initiative will involve setting up a training centre to provide skills training to people based on the needs of industry and employers in the Kaikohe area.

"The horticulture initiative is an extension of the successful Mangatoa Station Forestry and Ecological Restoration project which was funded by our He Poutama Rangatahi programme previously.The additional funding will extend this youth programme so that it serves people of all ages.

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"The viticulture initiative will consist of a training programme based on a vineyard which will help prepare Kaikohe locals for skilled jobs in the industry.

The programme will continue for 10 years, well beyond the three years of PGF funding as a result of contributions from other funders.