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It has come across very, very clearly that this region has a unique set of values, a unique set of requirements in terms of what businesses want and what youth want, and we need to make sure we are designing a strategy to allow youth to get jobs and also for our employers to find the right people.

Workshop facilitator Michaela Vodanovich

'Disconnect' holds back Gisborne youth and business

20 June 2016, Andrew Ashton, The Gisborne Herald.

Employer survey finds three quarters of local businesses engaged in youth employment strategy keen to employ.

EFFORTS to create a regional youth employment strategy to boost job prospects for young people here have identified the need to overcome a “complete generational disconnect” holding back both youth and business.

Speaking at the last of three workshops designed to formulate and enact a Tairawhiti Youth Employment Strategy, workshop facilitator Michaela Vodanovich said it was intended that the initiatives identified as high priority be implemented as soon as possible.

“That has to start now. It can’t be five years down the track,” she said.

“It has come across very, very clearly that this region has a unique set of values, a unique set of requirements in terms of what businesses want and what youth want, and we need to make sure we are designing a strategy to allow youth to get jobs and also for our employers to find the right people.”

A survey of employers found 75 percent of businesses engaged in the youth employment strategy process intended to employ someone in the next six months.

“Their voice was collective, it was unanimous and they are basically telling us that they want to employ people and they want people now. So we were very pleased with that response, and we will be going back to those employers and making sure we are making the connection into the labour pool.”

Most young people believe they need to leave

However, 82 percent of youth surveyed believed they would need to move away from Gisborne to get the job they want.

“There is a complete misconception and generational gap between youth and employers and it’s a barrier in terms of that connection to employment. So we have to fix that — if we don’t fix it, the problem is only going to get worse,” said Ms Vodanovich.

The workshops were funded by the Todd Foundation and Work and Income NZ, and facilitated by Activate Tairawhiti using an independent contractor on behalf of other stakeholders, including Gisborne Social Sector Trial and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou.

Initial findings of Friday’s workshop identified the need for a permanent Youth Advisory Group and a more vocal role for the Youth Council within local government.

Activate Tairawhiti chief executive Steve Breen said the process had provided “some insight” into how things could look moving forward.

The next steps would involve making approaches to groups identified during the workshop as possible funders for initiatives, and then releasing an actionable document.

“The take-away from today is that whatever we come up with, there is a genuine community need for a strategy. It’s great that we have such a strong group of young people involved as well.”

Mr Breen added that the whole process had been well backed by a broad spectrum of community representatives.

“I’ve done this in other locations and the participation here has been really impressive.”

More than 40 people, including representatives from business, education, Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, Work and Income NZ and youth groups attended the workshop.

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