Bolstering lifelong pathways for Northland youth

  • Louise Upston
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Education Primary Industries Corrections

Minister Louise Upston will today host her second cross-sector employment breakfast in Northland in as many weeks, as the Government seeks to strengthen the links between educators and employers, and to match up relevant training opportunities for young people with the jobs that need filling.

As Minister of Corrections, Associate Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment, Associate Minister for Primary Industries, and Associate Minister of Education, Ms Upston has responsibility for the Northland Place-Based Initiative ‘Kainga Ora’, which brings together government agencies, NGOs, iwi, and community leaders to support programmes that will have a positive impact on young Northlanders.

Launched in September 2016, Kainga Ora builds on the work of the Northland Social Wellbeing Governance Group, an interagency group made up of local social sector leaders, including iwi, to better respond to the challenges facing vulnerable children, youth and families in Northland.

“My plan is to make sure that the Kainga Ora, Regional Economic Growth strategy and Youth Employment Pathways are all aligned and working in an open and collaborative way to ensure we are truly achieving the best possible outcomes for our young people in Northland.

“The Primary Industry Skills Pipeline for Northland shows the destinations of secondary students entering into tertiary study and primary industry related study, and in my opinion it seems crazy that only eight per cent of students were training in primary related fields, to feed over 3500 primary industry jobs that are already or are soon to be available in Northland. We need to do better to match this pipeline with real, sustainable employment opportunities.

“We know that Northland has immense potential. While it’s well known that the rate of those not in employment, education or training is high, initiatives such as this provide a real opportunity to make a tangible difference.

“The intention is not to replicate what is already being done, but to build on the work underway and bolster the chances our young people have to be successful. In practice, this could mean building on proven local initiatives such as T500, Kaikohe GROW, or looking at other new and innovative approaches.

Ms Upston says that in addition to the events she has been hosting in Northland, Corrections have also been focusing on increasing engagement with employers and have held a series of breakfasts throughout New Zealand to encourage employers to give former offenders a chance. Corrections play an important part in providing pathways for offenders back into education or employment to secure them a better future.

“I want to encourage all of our stakeholders to expand on this, for example with the local Communities of Learning | Kahui Ako in Northland talking to employers and inviting them into their schools to get our next generation of employees excited about the kinds of exciting and highly paid employment opportunities that are growing in their region.

Ms Upston says the announcement last week by the Prime Minister of a $50 million Regional Youth Employment Strategy to support at-risk young people into work provides further impetus to support the Northland community to make the most of all of the work the Government is doing to support them.

“Northland is one of four regions targeted by the Prime Minister’s $50m Youth Employment Pathways programme which will focus on those aged 15-24 who experience significant periods of unemployment, and those who have, since age 18, spent six continuous months on benefit, with the aim of helping this group of young people move into sustained employment or onto a pathway that leads to sustained employment,” Ms Upston says.

“I expect discussions like today to continue beyond these breakfast events, and to result in real change because the status quo is not acceptable, and ultimately everyone stands to benefit from improved life outcomes for Northland’s young people.”