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Let’s expand ‘toolkit’ for school leavers

Opinion Piece

The release of the 2019 Budget last Thursday left me thinking two things — how is this going to benefit our region, and how is it going to uplift our rangatahi/young leaders?

One topic of this Budget that stood out to me, and seems to have been majorly overlooked, is the School Leavers Toolkit.

For the second year the Government is allocating $3.5 million to this toolkit, accessible to students aged 13 to 18. It includes topics such as financial literacy, “civics”, key workplace competencies and personal wellbeing.

Ministry for Education early learning and student achievement deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the programme last year equipped young people with the skills and capabilities required to transition successfully into further study or work.

Having left high school last year, I know what it’s like to leave your safe support network of education that you have had on a daily basis for the past 13 years. It feels as if you are scooped out of a little pond and chucked in the ocean of so many unknowns — starting with things so simple as paperwork, job applications and tax returns.

It’s basically impossible to do this alone as a young person. Big companies and organisations are not always the most supportive or understanding either.

There is an expectation that high school has “prepared you for the real world” when to an extent it hasn’t — not the high business and community standard everyone else is expecting of us.

So the real question is, how do we capture this great tool in our community and take it one step further, so the toolkit is not an option but rather a lesson in Gisborne schools?

We must use this resource to create young people who are socially-knowledgeable about the world outside of education and the real problems we face as a community. It must not be restricted to just age 18 and under, but a support system be put in place for youth until age 24 or even older.

We can harness this toolkit and turn our people into civically-engaged members of our community.

Alice Kibble