Support for youth for employment scheme

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 On board . . . Dunedin employers involved in the Youth Employment Success scheme gather at a function on Tuesday night. PHOTOS: BRENDA HARWOOD

Dunedin employers are stepping up with strong support for young people through the Youth Employment Success scheme.

With 81 employers now signed up to the Ministry of Social Development youth mentoring programme, up from 72 last year, the Yes scheme has about 800 work-related opportunities on offer for young people.

About 25 to 30 opportunities, aimed at helping young people become more employable, are taken up each month.

The third successful year of the scheme was celebrated on Tuesday night, against a backdrop of positive economic activity for the city – with GDP up 2%, house prices up 15%, consumer spending up 3.6% and unemployment down 1% at 6.1%.

The total number of youth aged 18 to 24 on benefits has also declined over the past five years, from 1400 in March 2014, to 1101 in March 2019.

Addressing the gathering, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the future of any community rested with its young people, both socially and economically, but they needed support and encouragement to get ahead.

Mr Cull congratulated the employers and young people involved in the Yes programme, describing it as a “fantastic example of working together to achieve success”.

“You should all be proud of being part of something that is building a future for Dunedin’s rangatahi.”

MSD representative Bex Twemlow said the Yes programme gave young people a “huge input” of information to help them “kick-start their careers”.

These include work placements, mentoring, internships, coffee dates, CV reviews, practice interviews, site visits and employer presentations.

She introduced Otago Girls’ High School year 13 pupils Mona Bekhit and Erin Hartley, who are among 10 interns with The Edge radio station, sponsored by the Yes programme.

Otago Girls’ High School year 13 pupils and Yes interns with The Edge radio station Mona Bekhit (17, left) and Erin Hartley (17) share some of their experiences with about 85 people at Tuesday’s Yes event, hosted by Firebrand at Innov8HQ.

“It has been great fun, and we have learned a lot about what working for a radio station involves through doing a series of challenges,” Mona said.

The internship will continue until the end of the year, after which the girls hope to find related jobs.

Founded in 2016 and administered by Firebrand in Dunedin, the Youth Employment Success scheme was the brainchild of MSD regional labour market manager Emma Hamilton, who was inspired by a similar youth programme in the United Kingdom.

The idea received strong support from educational institutes, training providers and employers, and the programme had enjoyed steady growth in the past three years, Ms Hamilton said.

“It is not as easy for young people to get part-time work, to gain work experience, or to get their foot in the door with employers, so this is a great way to facilitate that.

“I’m really proud of the programme. I think it’s great for Dunedin and I would love for our city to become known for supporting its young people.”

The programme was also launched in Gore in May 2018, and now has 20 employers on board.