Auckland ratepayers and charities have stepped in to help students at two low-income South Auckland schools pay for their learner driver's licences.
The Youth Connections scheme, funded by the council with the Tindall Foundation and Auckland Airport Community Trust, has given $5000 each towards learner licence training and tests at Mangere and Otahuhu Colleges.
The gesture came after "youth connector" Briar Tuialii found that not having a licence was a major barrier to South Auckland young people finding work. "The majority don't have a licence by the time they hit 18-19 and are looking for employ-ment," she said. "By then it's too late because of the length of time it takes for the graduated licence system."
The $5000 from Youth Connections plus $2900 from Auckland Transport cut the cost to students to $50. Numbers doing the course have quadrupled to 100 this year, or 25 each term.
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The latest intake started their course with a close-up look at cars in the college carpark yesterday and will attend seven after-school classes before sitting their tests. All except three of the 57 who took the courses in the first two terms gained their learner licences.
However five students who applied to do courses had to drop out because they were born in the islands so did not have New Zealand birth certificates and could not afford the $140 cost of the alternative identity document, a passport.
Otahuhu College careers/gateway co-ordinator Jacquie Brayshaw said the funding made a "huge difference to the student body".