Hastings High School students have eagerly taken the opportunity to upskill themselves when presented with workplace opportunities through the Youth Futures project to which Hastings District Council is a major contributor.
The ultimate goal of the Youth Futures project is to achieve 100% employment of local young people in the 16 to 24 year age group. Project coordinators have involved schools, businesses, government agencies, training organisations and iwi in the initial planning to achieve this goal. Key drivers of the project include Council, Ministry of Social Development, EIT and Hamish Whyte from Furnware as a business/employer champion.
The Work Experience Placement programme is one strategy to come from the project. It began in term two of the 2012 school year, with 24 students from Hastings Boys and Girls High schools, Karamu High and Taikura Rudolf Steiner School gaining work experience at the Council, Tumu Group and Unison. In term three Flaxmere College and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga came on board as well, with another 24 students working at HDC, Tumu Timbers, Furnware and Westpac Bank.
Hastings District Mayor Lawrence Yule says “The young people in our community are the future and it is so important that they have every opportunity to gain work place skills and experience and get a better idea of what they want to do in the future. Over the next ten years our workforce will lose valuable experience as baby boomers retire. This potential shortage can be overcome by ensuring our young people have the required training and experience to fill the gaps.”
“There is a real need for communities to come together to support young folk as they transition from school to employment, training or study. This has been borne out by international and New Zealand research. The structured and intensive work experience concept was an idea that our Chief Executive brought back from a programme he attended at the Harvard Kennedy School last year, where much of the leading research in student transition to the workforce has been carried out.”
Hastings District Council CEO Ross McLeod says “The early results of the work experience project are very encouraging. Business managers are excited about the attitude of the students and Hastings Schools are keen to allow their students to experience the work place and gather the vital information which will help guide their career decision making.”
Youth Futures is a long term project which will encourage businesses, agencies and community groups to continue working together to ensure a steady supply of employees for our workforce in the future. Project coordinators are looking to grow community ownership of the scheme to ensure its future success.