Empowering rangatahi into work and education

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Deciding what to do when you’ve left school can be an overwhelming prospect for some rangatahi.

They want to be doing something they’re passionate about, so finding that stepping stone into a career or training can be tricky. But the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) is helping young people aged 16-25 find their feet with work and education opportunities.

The programme is a successful partnership of mayors from around the country, working together with central government and the Ministry of Social Development – who have invested $14 million for rural communities this financial year.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s version of the programme focuses on helping youth in Te Puke and Maketu, where there is a gap for such support.

To achieve this, Council joined forces with COLAB – a group of social sector organisations based in Te Puke – to facilitate the pilot, with Davina Edwards appointed as the programme coordinator.

Davina’s main mahi is identifying local barriers to employment and developing and implementing strategies to overcome them.

Former Te Puke High School student, 18-year-old Aidan McGettigan is one of the pilot programme’s success stories. After leaving school earlier this year he connected with Davina and the MTFJ with the ultimate goal of becoming a mechanic. Through the programme, Davina assisted Aidan with purchasing tools and safety equipment that was required for his work.

“I was offered an automotive apprenticeship with J&S Automotive after doing some work experience with them through my school’s gateway programme. I wanted to do something I’m passionate about, and that’s to be a mechanic,” says Aidan.

Aidan’s boss, J&S Automotive Te Puke owner Jeremy Norman says Aidan has a really good work ethic and attitude for the job. “He’s so keen to learn everything and it’s been great to see him grow in confidence and develop his skills over the year. It’s awesome that there are local programmes out there [like the MTFJ] that help our young people into jobs, as well as helping employers connect with young people,” says Jeremy.

Aidan is one of 10 Te Puke and Maketu rangatahi placed into sustainable (90 plus days) employment during the successful six-month pilot programme.

Davina is thrilled that rangatahi like Aidan are working towards achieving their career goals through the MTFJ.

“Over the past eight months we’ve built trusting relationships with key organisations to support our employment programme, as well as connecting with local rangatahi, whānau and the wider community,” says Davina.

“The partnership between Council, COLAB and the Ministry of Social Development, showcases a powerful commitment to transforming lives and communities through sustainable employment.

Funding Extension

Council has secured a further $252,000 of funding from central government to boost to its Mayors Taskforce for Jobs Rural Community Resilience Programme.

Western Bay Mayor James Denyer says securing an extra two years of funding shows the success of the programme. Being part of the pilot programme has been a learning experience for us all; and as the programme gets further embedded, I envisage it will lead to more great outcomes for youth in the Te Puke area.

“Hearing about Aidan’s achievements with his apprenticeship and other rangatahi that have found work and education opportunities is the reason why I’m eager to continue my support for the programme over the next two years,” says Mayor James. “It has been a pleasure to support the MTFJ at various events this year, like the Matariki celebration, and the MTFJ roadshow bus.

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