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Creating a youth jobs strategy

AFTER a workshop was held here last week aimed at lifting youth employment rates, a youth advisory panel for the Tairawhiti Youth Employment Strategy will be set up in Gisborne. The workshop was the second in a series of three to be held in town.

The first workshop focused on the perspectives of employers, education providers, government organisations and community organisations, and barriers they thought existed between young people and jobs.

Last week’s workshop was an all-youth affair, where nearly 50 young people ranging from 13 to 24 had their say.

The workshop was facilitated by Hawke’s Bay company Ice House regional manager Michaela Vodanovich. At the start of the workshop the idea was to get youth feedback, but by the end Ms Vodanovich had other recommendations.

“We are hoping to get a really clear strategy in terms of what youth actually need to find future employment. We cannot wait another five years — we have got to find a way to connect them to the jobs that are already available and we need to do it now.

“Youth input is massively important. One of the recommendations I will be giving is that they should hand it over to be run by youth, with the support of business owners.”

Ms Vodanovich said a youth strategy was not going to be implemented well if it was implemented by a “whole bunch of adults” who the problem was not affecting.

“We will be looking to put together a youth advisory group. There is a gap between the employment market and potential employees, and we need to fix it.”

Young people's voice and input importantActivate Tairawhiti economic development project manager Kim Holland agreed and said it was important that young people’s voice and input continued. Work had begun to set up the group.

The workshops are funded through the Todd Foundation and Work and Income New Zealand, and are facilitated by Activate Tairawhiti using an independent contractor on behalf of other involved stakeholders, including Gisborne Social Sector Trial and Te Runanganui O Ngati Porou.

Instead of a round-table format, the youth workshop was run at the Lawson Field Theatre as a talk show.

Professional master of ceremonies and television Host Te Hamua Nikora was the host, interviewing guest speakers — young employed people who had gained qualifications or work through different avenues in Gisborne — in between workshop sessions.

Mr Nikora said youth were the faces of tomorrow.

“We need young people to be involved. If any strategies are getting built around anything, young people need to have a voice, because it is they who are going to be living those strategies.”

The talk show format was the idea of Gisborne Social Sector Trial manager Leslynne Jackson.

“It was presented in a way that was youth-friendly. I think creating the right environment is really conducive to getting it right.

“Hearing the guest speakers’ experiences helped get them in the right head space to answer questions.”

Speakers included a self-employed nail technician and artist, a student nurse, a forestry worker and an accountant.

“The speakers covered a lot of relevant information.”

Some issues young people raised were the perception that all jobs in Gisborne were low paying, that there were not enough or no jobs at all in their desired fields, and that tertiary education outlets in Gisborne did not have the same standing as bigger universities out of town.

They also had many solutions and suggestions to improve youth unemployment rates. The third workshop will take place next month.

Data from the adult and youth workshops will be married to create a youth employment strategy for the region.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: Guest speaker from the forestry industry Shideen Nathan-Ngaronoa, youth workshop members Tondra Gerrard, Maia Donovan and Jade Hohepa and host Te Hamua Nikora. The three young people were part of nearly 50 who took part in the second of three workshops working towards creating a Tairawhiti Youth Employment Strategy. Picture by Liam Clayton