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Horowhenua Chronicle - 2021-11-26

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Special scheme finds success readying youth for workforce

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Anational programme designed to help youth prepare for the workforce is having great success since starting at the Horowhenua Learning Centre (HLC) this year. The Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) was set up in February 2000, recognising that communities, led by their mayors, could play a crucial role in fostering employment opportunities for youth. In July 2020, the taskforce launched a pilot programme that helped four rural mayors link vulnerable youth with employment opportunities in their regions. The success of this programme led to it being offered to provincial councils as well, including Horowhenua District Council (HDC). Funding for the course will be available until June 30 next year, but mayor Bernie Wanden believes the programme’s success should guarantee it continues beyond that. HLC have run two eight-week courses this year, with the final one halfway through and bookings for the first course in 2022 coming in. Course leader Tammie Metcalfe said a lot of 16 to 20-year-olds disengage from learning, as well as society, without realising other opportunities are available. “Our courses are tailored to the students. The first week is spent getting to know their interests. We design visits to help form community connections. We try to source relevant work experience opportunities,” Metcalfe said. Students are able to check out other tertiary options, such as HLC’s Level 3 Certificate in Carpentry, where they get a half day working with the tools. They also do community-based volunteer work each Wednesday, such as helping Hope Kete with food collection and the Friends of O¯ taki River with plant mulching. In class, students receive help in getting their driver’s licence, creating a CV, gaining a first aid certificate and developing interview skills. The current course started with 14 students — three have been offered full-time jobs already and others have gained work experience opportunities as part of the course that may lead to permanent jobs. “Part of the programme includes offering assistance to prospective employers, in the form of subsidies, to take on these students,” said Wanden. Malachi, 17, thought the course would be like school: “A bit dumb and boring, but it’s all good. I’m learning real life skills.” Brooklyn, also 17, was hanging out at home with no idea what he wanted to do. “Now I know I really want to do farming. These guys are trying to get me a [placement] in Masterton.” Johnathan is one of the youngest on the course, at 16, and one of the most future-focused, having gone from “what am I doing tomorrow” to having plans for the next five years. “School teaches you nothing about life skills,” he said. “This course opened my eyes to what else is available. It’s given me direction.” If the fully funded Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs course sounds like something that would benefit you, get in touch with Horowhenua Learning Centre on 0800 368 1095, or check out the website: www.hlc.ac.nz

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