More than 50 young people have their learner licence and are on the road to a career, thanks to New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) and Taranaki Futures.

NPDC invested $50,000 in the programme. Students from Inglewood High School, Waitara High School and Spotswood College received help with learning to drive through road code training and lessons from driver mentors.

The project, run by Taranaki Futures, aims to open up job opportunities and career paths for the teenagers by removing barriers some students have to getting their restricted licence.

New Plymouth District mayor Neil Holdom said it was a 'win-win' for tradies, small businesses and teenagers looking for their first job.

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"This has been a project that's been close to my heart so I'm absolutely thrilled to see 50 teenagers get their restricted driver licence.

"Not all kids get the help they need to learn to drive so this scheme is great for those who want their restricted driver licence as they leave school and head out into the workforce. I'd like to a say a big thank you to the 12 mentors who stepped up to help the students."

Taranaki Futures General Manager Belinda Mooney says the programme is about removing the barriers for students to obtain their licence.

"It is an essential requirement for many employers today. Students have given up their holiday time and added to their study workload to be part of this programme. It is great to see their hard work translating to success.

"Supporting students to success on this programme has also been no small task of the schools involved. Their dedication to their students is second to none, we are very lucky to have such fantastic school leadership teams in our schools."

Inglewood High School's Pathways Advisor Diane Foreman says it's been a wonderful opportunity for the students.

"It will help them gain independence and help them significantly with their future career," says Inglewood High School's Pathways Advisor Diane Foreman.

A call for mentors in July drew 12 volunteers. All the students on the course had three AA driving lessons and 16 opted for further practical training with the mentors and a Taranaki Futures car.

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The pilot programme included a week-long intensive road code training, the learner licence test and learning to drive. In 2020, the students take part in a defensive driving course and then sit the restricted licence test.