The transition from high school to the real world can be daunting for young people, especially if they don’t have a clear tertiary education or employment pathway to follow.
An estimated 200 or more rangatahi living between Waihi Beach and Te Puna are classified as ‘NEETs’ – that is, young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training. Many don’t posses the soft skills required to take that next step such as the ability to write a CV, present themselves well at an interview, or know how to access training opportunities or local cadetships.
Those issues and more, are now being addressed through a ‘Positive Pathways for Rangatahi’ project that has just been launched by Katikati Taiao.
Providing the Right Support
The charitable trust strives to grow connections, increase inclusiveness and build resilience in the local community. Many of their projects focus on improving Katikati’s natural environment but their new initiative is aimed squarely at the town’s youth who have already left, or are about to leave, school.
“If they aren't going to university or polytechnic then they are often completely unprepared for the outside world,” explains Katikati Taiao Trustee Jenny Hobbs.
“One of the barriers to young people in Katikati accessing anything is the cost of transport to Tauranga. And other programmes in this space are usually a one-off. So they get help, they get into something, and then that’s the end of the support. Statistics show that young people might try three or more times to be employed before they might find something that's more long-term and suits them. They need to have mentoring, coaching and someone to help them navigate the system - maybe for up to five years.”
Youth Navigator Required
The idea for Positive Pathways arose out of a detailed research project called ‘Hearts and Minds’. Katikati Taiao Chairman Paul O’Neil says a number of youth engagement events were held to ask rangatahi what they wanted to see in Katikati, what barriers existed and where the gaps were. That transition from high school into real life emerged as a big area of concern.
“Another key theme which came up in the Hearts and Minds research was the need for emotional training and emotional intelligence - being able to cope with the ups and downs and knock backs. That came through quite strongly.”
A ‘Youth Navigator’ will now be employed by Katikati Taiao to help guide local NEETs and rangatahi facing job losses due to COVID-19 so they can move forward. They will deliver a ‘Licence to Work’ programme to teach those important soft skills and a 12 seater mini-van will be purchased so rangatahi can be transported to events, training courses, work experience, volunteer opportunities and workplace site visits.
“The Youth Navigator will provide encouragement and assistance in identifying appropriate opportunities for each young person. They will also act as a facilitator between youth and employers to ensure a smoother transition into long-term employment,” Paul says.
This initiative is being co-sponsored locally by Tamawhariua Health & Social Services and
Katikati Community Centre which have an MOU to advance this mahi. Former Western Bay District Councillor David Marshall will lead the new project, having spent 12 months undertaking detailed research on what was needed.
Paul is confident of success given that it’s not driven from the top down – instead, youth have articulated what they want and need and Positive Pathways has been designed accordingly.
Initial funding of $135,000 is being obtained from several sources including a $30,000 grant from BayTrust. The Department of Internal Affairs, TECT and Katikati’s Community Resource Centre have also contributed.
Katikati Taiao has signed a five year partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs to take part in a community-led development programme, and Positive Pathways for Rangatahi is one of the first major projects to emerge from that deal.
“Further down the track we’re reasonably confident of getting some longer term funding from MBIE’s He Poutama Rangatahi – Youth Employment fund to allow the project to sustain itself well into the future,” Paul says.
Katikati Taiao is grateful for the financial support received and hopes to work in collaboration with Katikati College, particularly to advance horticultural education and employment opportunities in the region.
“We have now got the time and the resources we need to make an impact in the community and achieve those positive outcomes we’re after.”