Youth Employment Guide
The unemployment rate for young people (aged 15-25) in New Zealand is more than double the unemployment rate of the general population. High youth unemployment is not good for business, the economy, or the community.
In recognition of this, Sustainable Business Council (SBC) established a Youth Employment Project, in partnership with the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs. The objective of this project is to “Lead New Zealand businesses in their role of ensuring current employment or training for all young New Zealanders by 2005”.
We believe business can and should play a key role in addressing youth unemployment. To do this, the issue and potential solutions must be well understood and communicated. This guide aims to do this. It is designed to inform and inspire, it is not intended to be prescriptive. Every business is different and they will have their own ideas and opportunities for action.
In tackling youth employment we identified a target group of youth who are particularly at risk of not training or working in the years up to 2005. This group is made up of:
- School leavers with little or no school qualifications.
- Sections of Māori and Pacifica youth.
- Youth who have been unemployed or under-employed (i.e. wanting more paid work than they currently have) for longer than 6 months.
- Youth with disability.
- Youth who are disconnected from access to appropriate training opportunity owing to: Entry pre-requisites; Intergenerational unemployment; Locality; Unavailability of accessible training resources; Cost and fear of student debt.
The programmes and case studies in this guide are targeted at ensuring this group gets a fair chance at a bright and productive future, whilst strengthening New Zealand business.
In preparing this Guide, the SBC was keen to use a knowledge base that was as up to date as possible.
In order to achieve this we commissioned original research. The research findings have been used throughout the report to illustrate the urgency of our task. The information was gathered from:
- Desktop Research. This included a literature search of published books and papers, government department reports and research documents, and media commentaries.
- Schools’ Careers Advisors Survey. An email survey of secondary school careers advisors in June 2002.
- Focus Groups. We held seven focus groups, involving seventy-two students, in a selection of six Auckland secondary schools during June 2002.
- Interviews. Government, business, and not-for-profit stakeholders in the area of youth employment and training have been interviewed and made contributions during the preparation of this guide.
“I work 26 hours a week in a supermarket. The money I earn pays for my school examination fees at the end of the year. Dad drops me off at work and I catch a bus home. By the end-of-the-week I’m pretty tired but my family couldn’t afford it if I didn’t work.”
This was the comment of one of the young women in a school focus group run as part of preparing this guide. On the face of it this young lady is a success by both measures of the purpose of this guide; she is in training and she is employed. She is only 16 though. Will she remain in training or employment until she is 25?
The answer, in fact, is that she is quite likely to wind up on the dole for a considerable amount of time. Her teacher will tell you that her achievement at school is suffering because of her part-time job, and statistics tell us that despite being highly motivated and having well thought out plans for the future, many young people with poor qualifications fall through the employment and training cracks.
There is a great deal that business can do to help. The Youth Employment Project was the NZBCSD’s premiere social initiative for 2002. The active participants in this project were City Care, Fonterra, Holcim, Money Matters, The Warehouse and Urgent Couriers. As part of our commitment to the bottom line of social sustainability this project aims to make a difference in an area that really matters to us all.
This guide is designed as a practical no nonsense approach for business on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of youth employment.
- We begin with the business case for tackling Youth Employment. This is the ‘why do we need to do anything’ part. We approach this issue from the macro perspective of the society and economy that we operate in, and also from the micro perspective of the benefits there can be to individual businesses.
- What can be done? This section explores a selection of youth training and employment initiatives that are currently underway, together with a number of case studies, inspiring stories, and new initiatives.
- Finally we invite businesses to join us on the Youth Employment and Training Journey. There are a wide range of possibilities for effective action that are open to business. Included in this range are the opportunities already identified on the NZBCSD website Successful Business and School Partnerships. Many of the initiatives identified in that guide have a direct impact on youth employment and training.
In 2000 the ILO (International Labour Organisation) estimated international youth unemployment to be at least 70 million.
This figure excludes the millions more who are under-employed or who may be students with poor job prospects at the end of their study. It is a staggering figure made up in many countries of sustained youth unemployment levels of between 15 and 20 per cent. In New Zealand the figure at the 2001 census was 17.6%, accounting for 41% of total unemployment, representing around 45,000 young New Zealanders.
This represents huge social and economic waste because unemployed youth are:
Wasting the considerable educational investment that has already been made in them.
In New Zealand it is an especially worthwhile investment that has been made. Results from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2000) confirm beyond doubt that New Zealand students consistently achieve in the top quartile of OECD students for Maths, Science and Reading, albeit with a diversity of achievement between and within schools. We have cause to be proud of the education of our young people. We must match it with meaningful opportunities for them to take advantage of their education.
Not contributing to society through taxation.
Young unemployed do not pay PAYE. When they turn 18 that loss is compounded by the payment of the unemployment benefit. A single unemployed beneficiary will receive at least $131.13 per week. An 18-year-old in full-time employment being paid at the minimum wage would be paying around $75.00/wk in PAYE. A conservative estimate of the net effect of getting New Zealand Youth off the dole and into work is a benefit to the country of $400 million.
Not spending and consuming as strongly as those in employment.
In addition to lost PAYE through the dole there is lost GST and depressed economic growth. Young people with less disposable income are not consuming the economy’s goods and services to the extent that is healthy for them, and for the economy.
Not building up the financial reserves that will give them choices in their future.
Not participating in society and contributing as citizens in a meaningful way.
American research shows that unemployment leads to unhealthy disconnectedness from society and the community. That is, ‘unhealthy’ in a very literal sense. Unemployed young people are far more likely to suffer from poor mental and physical health than their employed contemporaries. They are more likely to be part of a dysfunctional family situation and are far less likely to contribute at all to their community.
Far more likely to become criminals.
At one of the school focus group sessions held during research for this guide there was a young man who was clearly tightly connected to a situation of multi-generational unemployment.He spoke without inhibition about methods of augmenting benefit income by fencing stolen property in his community. Crime and unemployment are often natural bedfellows.
Recent groundbreaking research from Great Britain refers to the long-term cost to society of youth unemployment. The report Estimating the Cost of Being “Not in Education, Employment or Training” at Age 16-18 (NEET), published in September 2002, estimates the cost to Great Britain of 10,000 NEET youths over their lifetime to be nearly £1 billion. There is no reason to believe that the cost to New Zealand of NEET youth would be any less, proportionately.
At the level of the individual business a range of additional matters come to play which point to gains that can be made by businesses when they develop a strategic focus on youth employment:
Young people are the drivers of new ideas in society; they always have been.
Visionary leaders in any field usually accomplish the great discoveries, innovations, and new applications before they reach the age of 25. The world, and the role of knowledge in the world, is changing quickly. Young employees are every business’s window into a prosperous future.
A balanced workforce is a productive and effective workforce.
Businesses that allow themselves to age at the same rate as their employees lose balance in their workforce, and can often pay a hefty price later for regaining that balance. Ensuring that there is steady recruitment of young people into a business is a guarantee of long-term viability.
Older employees rejuvenate and stretch their performance in the company of young employees.
One of the most consistent pieces of feedback from the Gateway Programme (page 28) is about the positive effect of having enthusiastic secondary school students in the workplace. Their presence has been found to boost the morale and productivity of the existing workforce.
Successful businesses operate in-step with the communities where they do business.
There are no communities where youth is unimportant. Businesses with a demonstrable connection to youth in their communities have an edge on their competitors in winning in the future.
Young people are tomorrow’s market.
(And, for many of the high-value products and services of the twenty-first century, today’s market). The youth market is changing as society changes. By the middle of this century half the young people in this country will be Māori or Pacifica (source: Statistics New Zealand). Is there a business that exists that can afford to be disconnected from such a huge slice of the future market?
Investing in the employment of young people is an investment with the longest possible return for an employer.
Inevitably many young employees will move on to other employers, even other careers, long before they have clocked up a gold watch with a particular employer. There is no harm in that; it is a good thing. The younger the age at which an employer begins investing in the training and development of an employee, the longer the window of benefit, both for that employer in particular, and the economy in general.
Young workers are energetic and hungry.
They want to get on; they want to forge careers. Recent evidence gathered about the shortage of some crucial skills to the economy, often understates the case. The fact that there are more fitters retiring than being trained is easily identified. That the fitters retiring are generally putting in far fewer hours than their younger workmates are willing to work, is far less obvious. Young workers are keen to do overtime, and can maintain a high level of productivity over extended hours.
It is not a question of whether your business can afford to tackle youth employment, rather, can you afford not to?
And finally, what sort of a country do we want to live in?
Are we content to see large numbers of our young people excluded and wasted? Should we allow so much talent to go to waste in our ‘land of opportunity’?
If, like us, you believe that our country should be a place of opportunity for all, then please join our journey to achieve ‘zero waste’ of New Zealanders.
Each of the active participants from the Business Council on the Youth Employment Project have undertaken their own particular initiatives in respect of tackling Youth Employment.
The Active Participants represent a wide range of New Zealand Industry and their initiatives likewise cover an exciting variety of youth oriented initiatives.
The following case studies are inspiring and practical. The experiences range from a Fonterra Farm co-operative to a Warehouse Big Red Shed and from cleaning streams in Manukau City with Holcim Cement, to City Care attracting youth back to trades, and from learning about finance from Money Matters to learning to run a business with Urgent Couriers.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to youth employment and training. What is most significant about the case studies is that they all involve imaginative new ideas, and some of the schemes can be easily replicated by other businesses.
The real impact of these case studies though should be to illustrate what can be achieved with a bit of innovative thinking and commitment, and then inspire other businesses and organisations onto their own unique youth employment journey.
Department of Labour Advice to Employers Hiring Young People
Positive Employment Relationships and Youth
In any job the expectations of both parties need to be well understood at all times during the employment relationship. The procedures in place for monitoring and ensuring that those expectations are met need to be explained. Young employees should be treated with respect; condescension undermines good working relationships Some practical matters include:
- Being clear about what skills a young employee is required to bring to the job and which skills will be taught and nurtured. Make sure that any new young employee understands these things and record the matters covered.
- Regular reviews of performance can be built into the Employment Agreement, and this is recommended particularly in the early days of the employment relationship.
- Actively “coach” young employees so they can reasonably know what is expected of them and receive adequate training.
Sometimes, however, despite the best efforts of both parties, things don’t work out quite as planned. If an employee is not meeting expectations then this needs to be raised with them to find out why this is happening and how it can be remedied. This is then followed by an opportunity for the young employee to improve. Keep a record of these discussions as it is sometimes the case that improvement will not occur and the employment relationship may need to come to an end.
Ensuring that young people have a positive employment experience will help the employment relationship flourish, ensure the development of good work ethics and save your business time and money in the long term.
The Trades Path to Success
City Care is in the business of construction, maintenance and management of New Zealand’s infrastructure and amenity assets. With operational bases in Auckland and Christchurch, City Care provides contract services to local authorities and other major assets owners. With diverse operations including maintenance of parks, water networks, buildings and roads, work undertaken by City Care ranges over many occupations, each of which carries potential for training to Level 4 on the NZQA framework, the trades level. City Care employs 500 staff, more than 80 of which are currently in modern apprenticeship training.
Many of City Care’s existing apprentices are older than 25. Conscious of the need to train younger trades people to insure a replacement supply of skilled labour to the industries that City Care operates in, CEO Richard Lauder was keen to develop a scheme that could ease young people into trades training. Richard was not prepared to accept the tired and often expressed refrain that ‘young people do not want to work; you’ll never find anyone to take up your scheme’. Armed with evidence from the research phase of this project that young people do in general desperately want to work, Richard set about hammering out a new and flexible Work and Income supported proposal of his own. In this case, Richard sought to secure Work and Income subsidy support to take on 20 young longterm unemployed people and offer them:
- 12 months paid employment and training cycling through 8 occupational areas at City Care.
- Training to a new Level 2 NZQA certificate in a range of generic trades skills, and including life skills like teamwork, communication, time management, first aid and remedial literacy & numeracy.
- Significant opportunities for personal development.
- Buddying with experienced Trades qualified mentors for the twelve month period.
- The opportunity for at least twelve of the twenty to continue on to full fledged apprenticeships with City Care at the end of the twelve months.
- Opportunities to continue employment and training with other Christchurch employers for those that City Care will not retain themselves. City Care will facilitate and assist with placement to other employers.
Work and Income is assessing the scheme’s success to see if it can be rolled out to employer groups nationwide. The Contracting Industry Training Organisation (CITO) has developed and registered the new National Certificate in General Contracting Skills, and the Amalgamated Workers Union of New Zealand (AWUNZ) is offering free employment support.
The City Care scheme started in October 2002 and is expected to be repeated annually with similar numbers. There is a cost to City Care for running a programme of this sort, including the appointment of a dedicated programme manager, but as Richard Lauder observes City Care benefits through the opportunity to offer employment and apprenticeships to all the trainees who have proved themselves to be quality employees.
It's a Farming Life for Me
Fonterra employs 20,000 people, approximately 7,000 in NZ and 13,000 overseas. That makes Fonterra one of New Zealand’s largest employers. When the 40,000 workers employed on the farms of the 13,000 New Zealand farmer shareholders of Fonterra are added, a substantial slice of the New Zealand economy and labour market is covered.
As part of the Youth Employment Project, Fonterra has surveyed farmers via the net on farm employment. There was a positive and enthusiastic response from 228 farmers. In summary the survey revealed that ignorance of farming in the wider community and insensitivity to the needs of young people by farmers are the twin enemies of rural youth employment. Fonterra believes that education is the answer.
Farmers need to become better informed about the needs of young people and what it means to be a ‘good employer’ of a young school leaver. This will require:
- Developing an understanding and respect for their needs.
- Providing them with time off and on a more flexible basis.
- Ensuring school leavers have a positive and educational experience.
The youth and the public need to be educated about farming as an exciting and challenging career option because:Farming is BIG business.Farming requires intelligence and commercial acumen.“There is an obligation on the employer to nurture staff at this early stage of their career – it needs to be fun and a positive environment”.“In my opinion some of the farming advertisements leave a lot to be desired. Some of them seem to portray that farmers are obviously uneducated and a bit stupid. The opposite is more correct.”
As part of its commitment to the Youth Employment Project Fonterra is developing a company-wide strategy to tackle community and farming attitudes and to kill the idea that farming is ‘a bit daggy’. Already at Reporoa school they have made a start. The Reporoa School Project involves students living on a farm and undertaking some of their school curriculum study for unit standards on the farm. Farmers act as mentors. The scheme is new but it is working well. Students who achieve a Level 1 National qualification can move on to become employed on the farm and then continue their study towards a Level 2 qualification.
As is seen elsewhere in this guide, good attitudes and relationships are the key to success.
“On a farm, labour shortages can be a key constraint on productivity. It doesn’t make sense to have farmers desperate for help while young people are desperate for work. Our industry organisations are working to address this mis-match and improve the value proposition of farming for young people. It is a great win-win.”
Craig Norgate, Chief Executive, Fonterra Co-operative Group
“The diversity of Fonterra’s employees is an asset. The diversity of our people and their ideas and skills allows us to make decisions that serve a broad spectrum of customers in markets around the world. Our diversity enhances our ability to gain a competitive advantage in today’s global economy. Young people are a crucial part of the mix for a successful business.”
Glen Petersen, Group Director HR, Fonterra Co-operative Group
Environment and Community; The Heart of Youth Today
Holcim cement is a Swiss owned business with 45 sites around New Zealand. The business is committed to sustainable development internationally and is active to this end in all the countries where it operates.Many of the jobs at Holcim’s sites in New Zealand are low or semi-skilled jobs involving a large proportion of manual work. Because of this and the locality of the plants, Holcim has found that its workforce often has strong networks in well-defined discreet communities within the towns in which they operate. Holcim is using this knowledge to good effect in matching youths from at risk target groups with an experience that lifts their sights, gives them some skills and confidence for the future, and keeps them linked to their community.
In response to a request for sponsorship by a local rugby league team, management at Holcim’s Manukau Quarry came up with a novel idea. Instead of direct sponsorship, Holcim offered to purchase goods and equipment – tracksuits and playing gear – in exchange for members of the team working alongside Holcim employees at the plant and on an environmental project to clean up a stream adjacent to the quarry. Many of the employees at the Holcim plant are part of the same community as the young people from the league team.
They all know and trust each other. By working alongside experienced quarry workers these young people receive mentoring, are expected to comply with all workplace rules like signing in and out and being punctual, and enjoy their role alongside their older mentors in cleaning up the environment.
We find that direct engagement with our employees' community is much more positive than simply handing over a cheque. Our employees value the chance to mentor young people from their own community, and these young people are working with role models that they know and respect. This creates the sort of bond that sees people looking out for each other well beyond the end of the work experience. We are certain that the experience involves deep-seeded learning for these youngsters, that I am sure will inoculate them from future unemployment.”
Rex Williams, Managing Director, Holcim Cement
Opportunity and Inspiration
Money Matters, a leading personal investment advisory firm, headed by Dr Rodger Spiller, offers mentoring and work experience opportunities to university students. This experience is invaluable as it enables them to overcome the major challenge facing all youth – they can’t get a job without experience but can’t get experience without a job.
Nalini Fernandez, tells how working with Money Matters enabled her to identify her niche and obtain employment. “Every week, while the rest of my classmates rushed home (or to the pub) after University, I’d enter the corporate world, feeling like a fish out of water. Nevertheless, I found people in the organisation to be surprisingly helpful and while I was given abundant guidance, I was also given the opportunity to ‘feel my way around’ and grow. I was given tasks that challenged me but also received encouragement that reinforced my belief in my abilities.
As my knowledge of the industry grew so did my desire to learn more about the subject, and after I finished my BCom I went on to do my MCom and then secured a marketing job with a large financial organisation, Royal & SunAlliance, where I am currently employed. According to my employer, it was my previous industry experience (through Money Matters) combined with the fact that through this I had obviously demonstrated skill, ambition and the ability to work effectively with other people in an organisation, that put me ahead of other graduates and secured me the job!”
David Ring, a young Auckland university student sums it up like this. “I find that working alongside people who are experts and leaders in their fields of work and who have genuine passion for what they do has been an inspirational and motivational experience for me.”
David also highlights the importance of mentoring. “The generosity shown by a well established member of the business community to act as a mentor has been a humbling and rewarding experience and has also given me the desire to look beyond myself and see the rewards of doing what I can, where I can for others. This I am sure will remain with me throughout my career.”
Who knows how many jobs for young people that sort of inspiration and motivation could see David create when he makes his own way in the business world? For every young leader and entrepreneur that is inspired to create new business opportunities as many as ten new jobs for young people can be created alongside.
"Investment in youth employment provides a virtuous cycle of benefits for youth, business, the economy and the community."
Rodger Spiller, Managing Director, Money Matters
Manukau Youth Employment Project (MYEP)
Thirty young job seekers have been given jobs for nine months at Manukau City Council in a new trial scheme to help the long-term unemployed.
They are all under 25, with few or no qualifications and formal work skills. They were out of work for at least six months and many for three years or more. All face huge barriers and lack of opportunities when trying to re-enter the workforce.
The initiative is called the Manukau Youth Employment Project, and it's the result of a new, closer working relationship between the government, social agencies and councils. Manukau City Council is working closely with Work and Income, and Tertiary Education Commission (formerly Skill New Zealand) in an effort to achieve the goals of Tomorrow's Manukau – a city that is progressive, proud and prosperous.
Manukau will benefit by improved training and employment participation rates, and the potential economic growth through an increasingly skilled local labour pool. It will also reduce the negative impact of unemployed and idle youth and create a sense of belonging and identity for our youth.
For more information contact:
Manukau City Council
Phone: 09 262 8900 ext 8662
The Red Rave Way
The Business Council has already been a trailblazer for developing business to school partnerships. In the context of tackling youth employment, business school relationships take on an even sharper focus.
The Warehouse, with 78 ‘Big Red Sheds’ around New Zealand, is taking the concept of school relationships to a new level as part of its commitment to the youth employment project.
The EDAL system (Enterprise Development Alongside Learning refer page 26) has already proved itself to be one of the most effective ways in New Zealand today to get businesses and schools working together for their mutual benefit. The Warehouse is using the EDAL system already and has 22 active partnerships with schools. The plan now is to introduce EDAL to all their 78 stores with a view to achieving relationships with over 100 New Zealand schools. To achieve this the Warehouse knows that you have got to have commitment right from the top. Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall is right there behind the initiative and all store managers will receive induction and training on the scheme by EDAL founder Elizabeth Deuchrass as part of the new project.
To ensure that the project remains at the forefront of consciousness in the Red Sheds, Elizabeth will be producing a monthly newsletter called the ‘Red Shirt Rave’. Because of the significant size of this initiative The Warehouse expects over time to develop their own unique process and to encourage learning-through sharing between the stores ultimately leading to a system of mentoring of school relationships within the group.
“Don’t think that working in The Warehouse isn’t good enough for work placement. You learn more than you think.”
Senior Student, Te Kura Kaupapa O Māori Kaikohe
“The win-win’s that have come from relationships between our stores and local schools have been rewarding and inspiring. Activities have varied from fashion parades to waste recovery to statistical survey work. In every case each party has come away with added value.”
Greg Paget, Regional Manager, The Warehouse Ltd
“It’s great to give pupils these experiences they may otherwise not get. They are provided with an insight into future possibilities beyond school.”
Karen Blue, Mataura School
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Urgent Couriers is a point-to-point courier service in the Auckland and Wellington areas with 85 contractors and 21 employees. They have been operating since 1989 and are generally recognised as leaders in the courier industry.
During 2002 Urgent Couriers had problems finding a reliable source of contractors to grow the business and to replace those who were leaving. Urgent Couriers identified a number of reasons for this decline in available applicants. These included a drop in overall unemployment, increased traffic and consequent congestion, and competitive pricing. Quite apart from developing a range of strategies to combat some of these issues, Urgent was keen to find a way to attract young people into an entrepreneurial opportunity as a courier driver. The Urgent Courier fleet was at that time made up entirely of contractors.
Urgent identified the capital cost of establishment as a barrier to many young people becoming contract drivers, especially if they were unemployed. An extra barrier for taking on registered unemployed people was that since Urgent was not offering ‘employment’ but rather a contractors relationship, that Work and Income New Zealand were not able to offer an employment subsidy. As is often the case with innovative solutions, a more imaginative and flexible application of the rules was necessary. At a meeting convened by project consultants TMP Worldwide the right ingredients were put into place and a proposal developed.
The ‘Employment to Contracting’ scheme involves:
- Work and Income identifying suitable long-term young unemployed candidates for interview by Urgent Couriers. Considerable pre-screening against previously agreed criteria is undertaken by Work and Income.
- Urgent purchasing a vehicle for the candidate to use throughout the cadetship period.
- Urgent employing the candidates, who all qualify for wages assistance from Work and Income, for a period of not less than 6 months on $12.00/hr.
- Urgent and the cadet agreeing to a ‘Transition Savings Plan’ to cover the period from when the cadet finishes employment until they receive income as a contractor. Urgent and the cadet will determine a set amount to be deducted from the cadet’s weekly wages and saved by Urgent for this purpose.
- Thorough and structured training for candidates to equip them with the necessary skills to run their own small business.
- Urgent organising and scheduling the sitting of all of the requisite licences.
- Subject to the cadet successfully achieving and meeting all neccessary milestones throughout the cadetship, Urgent will provide a fixed amount grant to the cadet, of similar value to the wages subsidy received, for the cadet to use as a seed capital for a deposit on the vehicle.
- The young people involved then become contract drivers in their own right.
Urgent Couriers Managing Director Steve Bonnici is confident about the long-term benefits of his scheme.
“Our experience is that even when we lose courier drivers it is inevitably to another career or entrepreneurial activity. By working for us as a courier driver these young employees learn the skills of being a small business person I haven’t heard of anyone leaving Urgent and winding up on a benefit.”
By easing the way into self-contracting Urgent is unlocking the entrepreneurial spirit of young New Zealanders. And, they are giving hope to long-term unemployed youth.
“Urgent is competing to recruit reliable contractors in an increasingly tight labour market. Young people who work for us as contractors learn all about running a small business in a safe, supportive environment. These skills provide a sound basis for former drivers to move on to another career or other entrepreneurial activity. By easing young people’s way into sub-contracting, we are strengthening our business and tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of unemployed youth.”
Steve Bonnici, Managing Director, Urgent Couriers
Transfield Services joined the Youth Employment project in late 2002 and, like other NZBCSD companies, they will be using the experiences of the 6 pioneering participants to develop their own youth employment program.
“The task of addressing youth employment in New Zealand today, for the betterment of tomorrow, is the social responsibility of all forward thinking and responsible companies.
“Ensuring that young people are given the opportunity and encouragement to join the ranks of the workforce with the tools to train, develop and prosper gives us all the far-reaching benefits of a mentally and economically fit community.
“Transfield Services stands firm behind the philosophy of recruiting apprentices, graduates and trainees with the intention of training, mentoring and succession planning, and along with Taskforce, supports wholly the concept of developing the youth of today into valuable, skilled members equipped for the workforce of tomorrow.”
Tony Fisher, General Manager, Transfield Services (New Zealand) Limited)
Programmes & Schemes
Aspirations & Destinations Project
The raw statistics on youth unemployment and the low levels of qualifications amongst some school leavers tell us about what these young people are not doing. It also tells us about the opportunities they aren’t getting. What the statistics don’t reveal is anything about what these young people are actually doing with their lives. Information on what young people, who are estranged from work and training, are doing is crucial to designing effective approaches to re-integrating them into the labour market. The Aspirations and Destinations Project seeks to find out what young people intend to do when they leave school, and compares that to what they actually wind up doing.
If we find them we can help them
Activists in the youth employment field frequently point to the lack of reliable information available on what happens to at-risk young people between leaving school and turning 18. Debbie Mohr at the Auckland Central Peoples Centre explains why.
“Young people don’t see any point in registering with Work and Income until they are 18. They are often suspicious of authority and, since they don’t qualify for the unemployment benefit until the age of 18, they avoid the hassle of being tied up with government departments until then. If a young person isn’t in a job or training by the time they are 18, they may have developed many of the bad habits of unemployablity; sleeping in, lack of motivation, hours on the playstation. I just wish we could help them earlier.”
If we are going to help them earlier we need to know where they are and what they are doing. The Destinations and Tracking Pilot was a programme undertaken by Career Services, in partnership with Skill NZ. It was set up to tackle this problem. The programme was conducted among students from eight Christchurch and four Porirua schools. Aspirations data was collected from nearly 2,500 students in Term 4 of 2001 by self-completion paper questionnaire and 90% of those students were successfully followed up by telephone in February/March 2002. The data collected corroborates strongly the findings of our own research focus groups. Amongst the key findings it was noted that:
- Only 9% of students were unsure of their intentions for 2002 in their response to the first questionnaire. Most students have a plan for the future.
- Overall 18% of these students had changed their mind by the time of the follow up in February/March with this figure rising to 35% for year 13 (seventh form) students. Most of these students had made other plans and still had strongly formed intentions about what they were going to do in 2002.
An obvious question arises. If school leavers have such clear well-formed intentions for their future between the end of the school year and the beginning of the next, where do the one-in-six unemployed young New Zealanders come from?
The project has been extended to include Manukau City in 2003. Clearly too there is a strongly identified need to conduct a longer-term qualitative based survey in this area. At some time further removed from school than just one-or-two months ‘the wheels fall off’ for many of our young people. It is crucial for planners and policy makers that we find out when and why.
EDAL – Business / Social Relationships
The younger you get them, the better the chances
EDAL (Enterprise Development Alongside Learning) is the brainchild of social entrepreneur Elizabeth Deuchrass. She now facilitates this process nationwide wherever she can find the embryo of a willing relationship. With her years of experience in the school and business sector Elizabeth has developed a proven six-step approach to establishing school relationships. (see sidebar)
It is a customised version of this process that The Warehouse Ltd are proceeding to roll out.
Elizabeth cites numerous examples of benefits to business from developing school relationships. From the media studies students of a secondary school taking on the development and production of a regular newsletter for a small engineering firm, to technology students developing resources that help reduce occupational overuse syndrome, examples abound of businesses directly benefiting from their association with schools. Of greater import to this project is the boost to a young person’s capacity to participate meaningfully in the labour market as a result of a solid long-term relationship with business.
Elizabeth points out that school relationships are not just about senior students soon to enter the workforce.
“Younger students down to the level of primary school benefit if their school has a formal relationship with business. It is a business world out there. The sooner that young people are exposed to the business environment, become familiar with businesspeople, and come to understand what life outside of school is like the more likely they are to adapt to ‘real life’ when they leave school.”
And what is in this for business? A commitment to young people at the earliest possible stage is the most long-term investment that can be made. Quite apart from profiling your business in tomorrow’s market you are linking your business to arguably the most extensive network available in any community. The parents, teachers and relations, that you secure access to through a relationship with a school are without match as a network into the community where you operate. You don’t have to have gone to Harvard to appreciate the business opportunities that arise from that.
First Foundation (FF)
Work, Study and Scholarship
Like launchpad, FF involves working and studying.
With FF however participating companies support a student in full-time tertiary study. Students who display ability – at least a B average in their studies – but who are likely to be held back from further academic pursuit by financial limitations are selected in year 12 (sixth form) by the FF and the participating companies for participation in the scheme. An FF scholarship features:
- The requirement on recipients to work part-time or during holidays for the participating company.
- A mentor throughout the tenure of the scholarship.
- A ‘tertiary account’ into which the recipient must make regular contribution and which is topped up by the sponsoring company to pay each year for tertiary tuition fees.
FF aim to have 120 students on the scheme by 2007. Claire Stewart, executive director of the foundation reports considerable success with the scheme to date.
“I know that these students are not part of the most ‘at risk’ group as identified in the Youth Employment Project,” she remarks, “but I do know that many of our scholarship recipients would not have reached their full potential without the help of FF.”
For every young person who is denied their full potential there is a knock-on effect down the chain that ultimately disadvantages other young people too. FF is a targeted programme which suits many employers of any size. Claire also points out that an FF scholarship is a great way to start a relationship with a local school that can lead on to so many other business opportunities.
Let's Make Sure that Gate is Open
Gateway is a government initiative designed to give year 11 to 13 secondary school students opportunities to undertake part of their course of study in selected workplaces.
That may not sound so very revolutionary. After all school students have been touring through local factories and workplaces since time immemorial. What is noteworthy about Gateway is that students in the participating workplaces are learning and being assessed against national unit standards on the National Qualifications Framework. The work they do is important, systematically planned, supported back in the classroom, and is indispensable to achieving the enrolled unit-standards.
As its name suggests, the scheme offers students a gateway to the workplace. The flexibility of the scheme is very popular amongst schools and employers alike. In some situations students go into the workplace one day-a-week, and in others they may go in fortnightly or three-weekly blocks, or even in a six-week block. Some schools and employers use the scheme to identify a good match between students and employer, with a view to the student being taken on permanently by the employer upon completion of the course. Many students have gone on to pursue Modern Apprenticeships in various industries, and others have seen their workplace training continue under industry training agreements.
Other schools use the Gateway experience to encourage their students to undertake further training that they might otherwise not have been ready or qualified for, or willing to undertake. A number of Gateway students have been able to use qualifications achieved through Gateway as entrance to University courses that would not have been open to them on the basis of their achievement in Sixth Form Certificate or Bursary.
Gateway ran as a pilot in 24 schools in 2002 and the government is committed to having the scheme available and funded for all decile 1 to 5 school’s by 2007. This will provide gateway opportunities for some 12,000 students. There is a tremendous opportunity here for business to get involved. The interim evaluations of the pilot schools have indicated enormous support for the scheme from participating employers and some notable direct benefits for those employers. Quite apart from the opportunity to partner with local schools and to assess possible future employees in a controlled workplace setting, employers reported benefits arising from the impact on existing older employees from having these students in the workplace. Morale tended to improve. There were opportunities for existing staff to mentor and teach job commitment.
There will be 63 schools participating in Gateway in 2003. Gateway learners will be able to credit their unit standards towards their NCEA qualification.
“At the operating level, older staff are sometimes reluctant to train new staff for fear of losing their jobs. However, there is enthusiasm for training these young ones. The youthful enthusiasm that the students bring along on Tuesday and Thursdays somehow lifts the spirit on the factory floor.”
Participating Company Training Manager
The Office Junior Makes a Come Back
Formed in December 2000 and operating in Dunedin, Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, Tauranga and Rotorua, launchpad provides school leavers with a practical supported pathway from school to work. launchpad offers school leavers entry-level office administration and financial services opportunities with the chance to achieve a Level 3 certificate in Business Administration.
Key features of launchpad include:
- Selection and recruitment of scholarship candidates.
- One year of full-time employment paid by the employer.
- Supported part-time tertiary study.
- Industry-specific work-based training.
- Provision of the launchpad workbook.
- Post-placement support throughout the scholarship year.
- Guidance and support from staff and employers.
- Support with future career directions.
Employers involved with launchpad report improved overall workplace productivity. And, the screening and support offered by launchpad to these young employees ensures that they themselves quickly become productive members of the team at work.
The pendulum has begun to swing back towards ‘office juniors’. It doesn’t make sense to have highly skilled, highly paid older employees doing the basic clerical work that young people can so easily pick up and learn from.
Jo Wolfreys, Director of launchpad points out that the hugely successful outcomes for graduates proves how critical this first year out of school is in shaping future careers and developing skilled workers.
“Employers offer more than just work by participating in launchpad; it is an opportunity to increase social skills, shape work ethics and mature as a person. Generally, at the end of the 12 months, scholarship graduates move into new positions and companies select a new scolarship recipient. Some companies keep these young people on and often promote them but they are encouraged to take on another candidate to ensure the opportunity remains open each year to the next group of school leavers. The scheme is a great success and employers invariably find being involved very rewarding for them and their business.”
"The scholarship programme has provided a ‘stepping-stone’ for me for the transition from High School to tertiary education.
“ I have always planned to continue to a University qualification and the scholarship programme has allowed me to take a constructive period to consider which area of education I wish to continue my studies without leaving the educational environment which could cause a loss of motivation to study.
“It has also given me an insight into the way a legal office works which has helped me come to my decision to study law at university."
Modern Apprenticeships / On-job Industry Training
The Old and the New, a Recipe for Success
Employers in all industries currently decry the shortage of skilled labour in a wide range of fields and occupations.
The Modern Apprenticeships scheme is a government initiative administered by Skill New Zealand (since 1 January 2003, the Tertiary Education Commission) that is designed to stem the tide of skill decline.
‘Modern’ refers to the unit-standard based nature of the training and to the extension of the scheme to a number of industries that did not traditionally use apprentices.
Modern Apprenticeships are designed for young people aged 16 to 21 years. Unlike the ‘time-served’ basis of the apprenticeships of old, Modern Apprenticeships lead to a national qualification at levels 3 and/or 4 on the National Qualifications Framework. Generally, apprenticeships still last three or four years but the new system ensures a flexible approach to learning is possible.
The distinctive features of Modern Apprenticeships include:
- The use of a Modern Apprenticeships Co-ordinator to support the young person and his/her employer during the apprenticeship to ensure the successful completion of National Certificates.
- Training that is shaped to meet the needs of individual Modern Apprentices through the use of an Individual Training Plan.
- Training that includes both industry-specific and generic skills. Such generic skills are referred to as ‘key skills’ and include such skills as communication, numeracy and information technology.
The numbers of Modern Apprenticeships have grown rapidly since its introduction in July 2000. The 2002 Budget committed an extra $41 million to Modern Apprenticeships over the next four years. This will enable the number of Modern Apprenticeships to more than double to 6,000 apprentices in training at any one time by December 2003.
The structured training for Modern Apprenticeships is arranged by ITOs (Industry Training Organisations) and ITOs can be contacted through Skill New Zealand/TEC. Modern Apprenticeships are now available in 27 different industries, including traditional trades, such as building and construction, baking, and engineering, and non-traditional trades such as tourism, hospitality and retail.
Skill NZ/TEC can also put you in touch with apprenticeship trusts around New Zealand who can, if you wish, take-over the selection and screening of apprentices, and ongoing financial and employment administration.
“I now have more opportunities and things that I can do. I like being able to say that I deserve things now after a hards days work. I have more money to play with – it’s at least double the benefit!”
Anthony Skipper, City Care Trainee
Taranaki Youth Initiative
The 'Taranaki Youth Initiative' has been launched by New Plymouth District Council and other Taranaki stakeholders.
It was developed in conjunction with the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs and has identified:
- A holistic framework for supporting the transition of our young people to employment or training
- A way of staying “connected” to our young people until they have developed a positive pathway to their future.
A Day in the Life of a Young Person's Future.
The Workchoice Trust was formed in 1994 with the purpose of providing a much-needed link between the business community and schools.
The Trust initiates a variety of programmes, which are designed to stimulate students’ thinking about careers through active contact with organisations and their staff.
The Objectives include:
- Developing, managing and supporting education and employment related programmes which in particular benefit students and those entering the workforce.
- The promotion of career-orientated programmes to employers.
- The support of students, especially in relation to post secondary and career-orientated training.
- Utilising the resources and support of employers and to act as a catalyst to bring together employers, schools and most importantly, students.
- Seeking the support of employers and educational organisations to achieve these objectives.
- Supporting others involved in programmes which meet these overall objectives and are of benefit to the community of New Zealand.
All funds raised through the individual company contributions and key sponsor support are paid to the Trust and are used exclusively to cover the costs associated with running the Workchoice Programmes. The Workchoice Trust is funded fully by the business community.
Discrimination That Works
Waipareira trust is a west Auckland based trust dedicated to furthering the Economic, Social and Community Development of urban Māori.
The trust’s activities include provision of education, primary health, and other social services to Māori from all iwi in the urban context. It also provides pre-employment services to young Māori to equip them better to tackle the labour market.
It is very successful at what it does, many young Māori have had opportunities opened up for them that would not have been there but for the support and nurturing of the trust. In addition to that, the trust takes a strong political position on tackling Māori youth unemployment.
Some years ago the trust was successful in becoming the major shareholder/ investor in the Westgate shopping development at the end of Auckland’s western motorway. From that position Waipareira was completely committed to ensuring that the Westgate development would benefit young Māori with opportunities for high quality employment.
To achieve this, the trust created what Diane Tuari from the trust describes as a ‘Māori Labour Market’. Effectively acting as a recruitment and development agency for young Māori, the trust was able to fill over half the new jobs at Westgate with Māori. They were able to do this because of the key business relationship that they had with the agency.
“Nothing prevents other businesses doing the same,” says Diane Tuari.
As a single initiative that directly targets the disproportionate level of Māori youth unemployment, the Westgate initiative takes some beating.
“Those young people stand ten-foot tall in those jobs” Dianne will tell you, “and, they’ve held onto them and gone on to be promoted. We’re proud of our young people for doing so well.”
Understanding the Causes of Youth Employment
There is a strong correlation between youth unemployment, poor school achievement, and low socio-economic circumstance.
The range of jobs within which young people predominantly work is narrow, and usually in the service, retail and recreational sectors.
Unemployment of parents and other family members increases the likelihood of unemployment for a young person.
Student debt arising because of student loans is becoming an escalating barrier to further training. Increasingly young workers have to work part-time to survive and pay tuition fees. Often this work is detrimental to their study.
Understanding the New Zealand Context
There are numerous state agency driven schemes to tackle youth unemployment. Their effectiveness is increasing and many are in the midst of review.
There is a hole in the tracking and assisting of youth between leaving school at 16-years-old and turning 18 when they may register with Work and Income New Zealand.
Youth from the Māori and Pacific Island communities are disproportionately over-represented in the ranks of youth unemployment and there is evidence that a culturally specific approach to this unemployment is beneficial.
Evidence from overseas and anecdotal evidence from New Zealand suggests that some employers consciously discriminate against hiring young inexperienced workers.
Key contacts to get started:
Sustainable Business Council (SBC)
PO Box 1925
Ph 04 496 6555
Fax 04 496 6550
Work and Income
For general enquiries about any Work and Income Service call 0800 559 009.
Bowen State Building
Tertiary Education Commission Te Amorangi Matauranga Matua
Department of Labour
Ministry of Education
45-47 Pipitea Street
Careers New Zealand
22-28 Willeston Street
PO Box 9446
Phone: 04 801 5177
Fax: 04 801 5745
Other Useful Websites
International Labour Organisation
The Jobs Letter / Mayors Taskforce for Jobs
New Zealand Government