Employment initiative for E. Southland

Youth Employment Success is coming to Eastern Southland.

The programme, which has the goal of finding employers offering opportunities to young people and telling their positive stories, has run in Dunedin for two years.

YES involved the Ministry of Social Development, Otago Southland Employers Association, Otago Polytechnic, the University of Otago and the Otago Chamber of Commerce, with Firebrand contracted to deliver the campaign.

During that time, hundreds of opportunities for youth with employers had been facilitated, many resulting in jobs, engagement and training undertaken, Firebrand managing director Rebecca Twemlow said.

It was now being rolled out in Eastern Southland, where there were slightly different challenges from Dunedin, but the programme was no different.

``It is still about finding, celebrating and showcasing the awesome employers already doing great things in Gore,'' she said.

A community launch was planned on May 29, after which there would be an ongoing implementation for 12 months.

Opportunities offered by employers could be a job, or a ``coffee and sit-down'' to talk about career progression, or the industry and where they saw it in the future. It could be a mock interview or a ``walkthrough'' of a business.

There were some great success stories from Dunedin, including open sessions at McDonald's that were attracting between six and 15 youths each time, Mrs Twemlow said.

One real challenge was that career pathways like the trades, such as builders, plumbers, electricians and general labourers, had been undervalued, she believed.

There was not a great risk of those roles being taken over by automation and there were not enough trades workers. Engineering and manufacturing businesses were all seeking staff.

Schools and parents played a key role in recognising ``not all kids are going to become scientists and doctors''.

Eastern Southland was a different mix from Dunedin; it was less about tech industries and global exporting of engineering and manufacturing, and more about primary industries.

But while farming and agriculture-related jobs were where a ``bunch'' of young people would land, they still needed mock interviews with the likes of a supermarket owner, or a job after school to understand customer service, she said.

A technology portal created a safe interface and connection for youth within their chosen industry, taking away the barrier to communicating, as it was acknowledged there was some anxiety involved with them reaching out.

As new employers became involved, events would be held to connect young people with employers, and open sessions would be held so groups of youth could see industries in action.

Mrs Twemlow would love to see YES eventually rolled out across New Zealand. The process was well positioned for that; it was not special to a region but it could speak to a community's individual needs.



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