Free service ‘shot in the arm’ for youth employment, business capability

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Jenny Shattock Isaac Boss Mary Jensen 07 Nov 2019

CAPTION: South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock, Smart Waikato Education and Employment Manager for Southern Waikato Isaac Boss and Smart Waikato chief executive Mary Jensen.

Smart Waikato Trust is upping the ante to reduce youth unemployment with the launch of a new Government-funded service for employers.

Smart Transitions offers free specialist support to businesses keen to develop entry-level work opportunities for young people, including work experience, cadetships, apprenticeships, internships and jobs.

The service will initially be offered to 140 employers involved in award-winning Secondary School Employer Partnerships (SSEP) Waikato-wide and will be made available to other employers throughout the region as resources permit.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones recently announced the trust will receive $449,300 over three years from the Provincial Growth Fund to extend SSEP into 21 more regional secondary schools and work with employers to create more transition-to-work opportunities with Smart Transitions.

Smart Transitions has been developed to reduce numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) in the Waikato region, which increased to 12.1 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to 11.4 percent at the same time last year.

The school – employer partnerships have connected more than 6000 young people and their teachers with more than 150 employers since 2016, showing students how school subjects are applied at work. The partnerships will be available in 43 of 50 regional secondary schools by 2021 and will have benefited more than 10,000 students.

Smart Waikato Chief Executive Mary Jensen is calling for SSEP employers to reengage with the Smart Transitions team to develop quality, entry-level work and training pathways for young people.

“Smart Transitions is where the rubber meets the road and builds on what has been a collaborative, successful regional effort to date. This enables us to take the work full circle by helping employers take the next step and offer meaningful work to young people who may otherwise have ended up as another statistic. This, and all the support and hard work to this point, enables us to make a real difference for young people, for employers and for our region,” Mary said.

Smart Transitions will also utilise Smart Waikato’s endorseMe® employability record, a Smart Phone app where young people are endorsed for their employability skills by employers, teachers and other mentors.

“This digital tool gives young people a new, simple and powerful way to be measured for their employability and a way to be able to prove and improve it.”

Smart Waikato has received New Zealand recognition for developing and imbedding SSEP alongside a suite of successful initiatives inspiring, informing and equipping regional communities to successfully empower young people through real education to employment outcomes.

Employers interested in working with the Smart Transitions team to develop work opportunities for young people, and increase capability in their business, can email [email protected]