The future looks a little brighter for young people in the Taupō District, thanks to an injection of $722,500 of government funding over two years.
Taupō Pathways for Youth Employment, a charitable trust and pre-employment training provider, is receiving the money so it can expand its Licence to Work programme to include under-25s in the district known as NEETs. At present it only works with secondary students.
NEETs are people who are not in education, employment or training, and there are estimated to be more than 500 of them under 25 in the Taupō district. Without the right opportunities, they are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed.
The money is coming from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's He Poutama Rangatahi fund to help local young people connect with employers and training opportunities and Employment Minister Willie Jackson was in Taupō last Friday to make the announcement.
Over two years, the funding will enable 100 rangatahi (young people) to participate in an intensive 10-week Licence to Work training programme and tailored pastoral care. Through the programme, local young people will be helped to volunteer, gain work experience, connect with apprenticeship opportunities and build relationships with potential employers.
Taupō Pathways chair Gaeleen Wilkie says the support represents a significant opportunity for the Taupō district. It not only has the potential to help divert at-risk rangatahi off a path to long-term unemployment, it also provides employers with access to a skilled local workforce and reduces the need to look outside of the region for employees.
"It is amazing to help empower these young people, watch them grow and reach their full potential.
"This project will be a real community one. It takes a village to raise a child and we all need to work together in order to have the best outcomes for our rangatahi."
She said a subcommittee of the Taupō Pathways board had been working on the application for funding for months and to hear they had been successful was a huge boost.
"It's very exciting because this group of young people unfortunately is a bit lost and nobody is working with them at present."
Gaeleen said young people often did not know how to go about getting a job and the Licence to Work programme was for them.
"Young people who want to be working but just don't have the confidence or the skills to go about it without support."
She says the value of the investment in youth is clear and the programme is well supported by education, social support and business communities.
The plan is to run Licence to Work twice a year in the first year, and then three times in the year after, with 20 young people in each programme, aiming to reach 100 NEETs all together.
The money will cover the programme's operating expenses and costs, training courses and equipment, and pastoral care.
An estimated 50 rangatahi will be helped into employment within two years. On average, up to 35 young people per year will be helped into further training and/or education.
Gaeleen says the first step will be to find a premises, preferably one with a kitchen, where the programme can be based. The funding will also help pay to employ a manager and two facilitators.
Gaeleen says one of the challenges will be actually finding the NEETs, because those who are not on a benefit tend to be under the radar.
'It really requires community collaboration to find young people that would really benefit from doing this course."
She hopes for referrals from youth services and community agencies, but whānau and the young people themselves can also apply.
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The Licence to Work programme
■Discovering the young person's values, interests and skills, visiting workplaces and exploring local work opportunities, then producing an individual pathway plan for them.
■The seven employability skills: positive attitude, communication, teamwork, willingness to learn, problem solving, decision making, resilience.
■CV preparation, interviews, budgeting, KiwiSaver, going flatting, drivers licences, health and safety, first aid.
■Voluntary work - practising work and employability skills, contributing to the local community
■Work experience with local employers