"It's so cool to see young people grow in confidence who at the start of the year wouldn't have walked into a workplace. Now they've got jobs and are standing tall."
So says Gaeleen Wilkie, the new manager of Taupō Pathways for Youth Employment which will spend the next two years running Licence to Work Ultimate, a free 10-week programme aimed at getting young people into jobs.
The first programme begins next week and there are still spaces available.
Taupō Pathways is a not-for-profit organisation which is a partnership between local employers, iwi, youth services, schools and training providers who recognise the importance of young people having a plan and direction for the future.
It was originally modelled on a successful Otorohanga programme that found career pathways with local employers for the town's young people and provided a wrap-around service to guide them into the workforce.
Taupō Pathways added an employability programme from Auckland charitable education trust Comet to create its Licence to Work programme in local colleges in 2017. It teaches students what's expected in a workplace and provides them with support during work experience.
Up to now it has been funded by Bay Trust but thanks to funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's He Poutama Rangatahi programme, Licence to Work has been extended and modified and is now being run for young people not in school. It's called Licence to Work Ultimate and it's a free 10-week course for young people not already in education, employment or training.
It will run three times per year for the next two years.
Licence to Work Ultimate focuses on the seven employability skills (positive attitude, self-management, willingness to learn, resilience, teamwork, communication and thinking skills) and adds in a variety of workshops from job interviews to cooking, budgeting, driving and looking for a job.
Voluntary work and work experience are part of the programme and there will be lots of visits to local workplaces so participants can see where local opportunities are. Lunch is provided, along with pick up and drop offs for those who need transport to the programme each day.
The first course will begin on November 9, and there are still places available. Preference will be given to under-20s.
"We will take 15 young people on that first course. We've got some and we are in the process of getting others but if anyone is interested in participating they can contact us," Gaeleen says.
"The idea is that we do the teaching of the employability skills as well as get them set for life, budgeting, cooking, going flatting, all those skills they need to live independently.
"And then you need other services in town we can connect them, for example, if they need literacy help we can connect them with that."
Part of the course is voluntary work and the students will do 80 hours work experience.
"And we'll go out and do stuff, go rafting, we'll go to Whakaipo Bay and do teamwork. It's not going to be like school ... we'll be out connecting with the community, visiting workplaces and learning by doing."
Gaeleen is presently spending her time finding more local employers to offer work experience and says they have so far been very receptive. At the same time, she also has the somewhat more difficult task of finding young people for the course.
"The 16 to 18-year-olds, if they are unemployed they are not that easy to find because they are often not in other services," Gaeleen says.
"We have a really good social media following (@taupopathways on Facebook) and we're contacting various social services and other agencies who work with young people. We've had parents come to us too."
Licence to Work in schools has had a 90 per cent employment rate, Gaeleen says.
"We had the Taupō-nui-a-Tia College graduation just a few days ago and it's so cool to see young people grow in confidence who at the start of the year wouldn't have walked into a workplace. Now they've got jobs and are standing tall. They just need a bit of support and guidance.
"One of them, I said to him 'what is it about that course that's been helpful to you'? And he said 'you believe in us, Miss'."
Gaeleen says it's the guidance that Taupō Pathways provides that makes the Licence to Work programme successful.
"They don't know how to go about getting a job. It's just someone that believes in them. "