Significant milestone for youth programme

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South Port tug engineer Richard Trow (left) talks to students aboard the tug boat Te Matua during a Southland Youth Futures tour of three Bluff workplaces in August. Photo: Supplied

SOUTHLAND Youth Futures (SYF) has passed a significant milestone, signing up its 20th Employer Excellence Partner two weeks ago, quickly followed by the 21st and 22nd partners.

The Venture Southland-led SYF programme has the goal of connecting young people to training and career opportunities in the primary sector and related support industries, such as primary processing, forestry, manufacturing, trades, transport and exporting.

Co-ordinator Allison Beckham said Employer Excellence Partners were integral to SYF.

They spoke in schools about the diversity of jobs available in their industries and outlined employer expectations, as well as offering senior students workplace visit experiences. They also committed to hiring young people wherever possible and supporting, mentoring and training new employees on the first rung of the career ladder.

This year, 16 talks in schools had been held, reaching more than 1400 students, while more than 70 senior students from 10 schools had visited various workplaces.

Mrs Beckham said British research had confirmed young people aged 19-24 who had been able to talk to employers and visit workplaces while they were still at school were far less likely to be NEETs – neither in employment, education or training – than their peers who had had limited exposure to career exploration opportunities.

“That’s exactly the approach we are taking with SYF. Personal contact with employers shows young people they are valued, and that there are people out there who are prepared to give them a chance to gain work experience.’’

The partners currently ranged from family-owned companies to multi-nationals such as Fonterra and HW Richardson Group across a wide spectrum of industries, and more partners were welcome, she said.

“I’m very happy to talk to anyone prepared to do something positive for Southland’s young people.’’

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