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Workshop highlights need to invest in Tairawhiti’s young people

A SCORE of Gisborne businesses have come forward to learn more about a new project to help improve long-term job prospects for the region’s young people.

Activate Tairawhiti economic development project manager Kim Holland said a wide range of employers representing professional services, small and medium businesses, engineering, infrastructure, retail, horticulture and agriculture took part.

The workshop was designed to introduce them to Activate Tairawhiti’s Licence to Work programme for young people over 16.

Ms Holland said more than 20 businesses attended the workshop as well as the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce and the Eastland Wood Council, who took part on behalf of their members.

“These local business owners and managers are leading the way for the region. By investing in young people and helping them gain employability skills, they will also be investing in the future success and growth of their own business.”

Ms Holland said the next step for attendees would be to confirm their participation in the Licence to Work programme, which aims to improve employability of young people, and decide what work placement opportunities and experience they could offer the region’s young people.

Speakers on the day included businessman Phil Matthews of Universal Engineering, which has nine young people in apprenticeships.

He spoke about the value young people add to his business, such as their ability to connect and promote his business using their digital skills.

Eastland Port involvedEastland Port port services manager Deane Craw also took part.

“We want to be part of this process to encourage participants to make a valuable contribution to the local community through local employment. Our aim is to ensure youth acquire the skills required to gain and maintain a position of employment.”

Karen Fenn is the newly-appointed Tairawhiti employability works co-ordinator.

“I’m grateful for the amazing opportunity this new role has to offer, enabling me to further support young people and industry while adding additional value to our community.

“I have taken this role because I see the skill shortages in our region and the need to get more youth into employment. This unique programme is the tool that will link them together for the benefit of our region. I encourage education providers and employers who want to get involved to contact me.”

She spent many years engaging with youth and working with businesses to build on their potential. This included 12 years in various roles at Work and Income New Zealand where she co-ordinated many training and employment placement contracts.

She was the Youth Link employment advisor for EIT for over five years, further building on her knowledge of young people and the issues they face.

Last year she was elected as a city ward councillor.

Ms Holland said her appointment was a point of difference for the region.

“While the Licence to Work programme has been operating very successfully in several other regions, this region is the first to initiate an employer workshop, because employers are a critical component to its success.

“We will be holding more workshops over the year and employers can become involved at any time by contacting Karen at karen@activatetairawhiti.co.nz

SIGNING ON: Activate Tairawhiti employer workshop attendees (from left) Michael King from Pauariki honey, Activate Tairawhiti employability works co-ordinator Karen Fenn, Gisborne Chamber of Commerce chief executive Terry Sheldrake, Activate Tairawhiti economic development project manager Kim Holland, Gisborne Volunteer Centre manager Jenny Greaves, Shirley Johnson from Comet Auckland and GDC Youth Council representative Cat Jackson. Picture by Liam Clayton