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COMET Auckland skills manager Shirley Johnson.

Endorsement for new youth work programme

31 October 2016, The Gisborne Herald

COMET programme about building up young people's skills and setting them up to succeed.

A NEW scheme intended to teach school leavers the “common sense” they need to make it in the world of work, yesterday received a positive reception from Gisborne’s employers and educators. 

About 40 people attended a presentation and workshop aimed at introducing COMET Auckland’s Licence to Work programme, which has been running for two years in Auckland.

COMET Auckland skills manager Shirley Johnson said the programme the programme was launched two years ago in Auckland to get young people ‘work ready” and give them the ability to tap into skills they needed to shine in the workplace.

Ms Johnson said research conducted last year revealed 38 percent of Auckland employers were not satisfied with the word readiness of school leavers but also pointed out that their top concern revolved around school-le avers’ ability to fit in at the workplace - not their level of academic qualifications.

“It’s these soft skills that makes a really good employee. It allows skilled young people to fill the skills-gap to grow the local economy.”

Last year 127 young people graduated the programme, which requires 16 year-olds to carry out 10 hours of community work, 80 hours of work experience and 18 hours of training modules to receive a certificate of “work readiness”.

Assessment of performance

In return, participating employers needed to complete an assessment of student performance.

“It’s a joint effort between business and schools”.

Ms Johnson said that some students in the Auckland programme had never crossed the Mangere bridge in their life and employers could not just assume young people knew what was expected from them in the workplace.

The programme’s common-sense approach would help explain what was required of both parties and provide students with “lifelong belief” in their ability to not only work but to be confident about finding work.

The Auckland programme had a proven track record in reducing bad behaviour, re-engaging students with school and preparing them for work.

“It’s about building up their skills and setting youth up to succeed rather than setting them up to fail.”

Next year, the programme will involve 1000 young people from 78 school across the North island, in addition to the Gisborne programme.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Prue Younger welcomed the initiative and said the wood and forestry industry would be keen to get on board.

“This marries perfectly with the issues our guys here are experiencing. It fits both sides and makes sure youth and employers are aware of what they need to do. I feel it will work very well.”

The programme would run here as part of Activate Tairawhiti’s Youth Employment Strategy.

Activate Tairawhiti economic development project manager Kim Holland said previous workshops and surveys of local businesses had revealed the “scary” fact that 82 percent of young people said they would have to leave Gisborne for work or education.

“We have 600 students leaving school this year, that’s 491 leaving Gisborne this year. That’s a really big problem and this programme is part of the solution.”

Ms Holland challenged Gisborne’s major employers and major institutions to step up and get involved with the programme, which was expected to start in February.

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