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National Forum on Improving Youth Employment

National Forum Focused on Improving Youth Employment

The challenge taken on by the nationwide Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs is to have all people aged under 25 either in employment or training by 2005.

Later this month agencies from around the country will converge on New Plymouth to talk about successful youth-focused programmes that are already in place, and how these can be built on.

Deputy chairperson of the taskforce, Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner, says one of the greatest benefits of this forum will be showing how all communities can implement their own youth employment programmes.

“For instance, a small town might not be able to take on a programme that a larger city has in place, but they might be able to bring in parts of that programme and tailor a scheme that is very effective for their community.

“No matter how big or how small a community is, they can make a significant different in the lives of our young people and prevent youth from falling down the cracks between high school and their first job. That’s the reason the title of this national forum is ‘Sharing great ideas, sharing great practice’.

“There are a lot of good programmes out there that are getting youth off the dole and into work or tertiary education. This national forum will throw the spotlight on those programmes and show what’s being done around the country, and provide advice on how these programmes can be adapted to work in other towns and cities,” says Mayor Turner.

New Plymouth Mayor Peter Tennent says the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs is serious when it talks about getting all youth into training or into employment. “It isn’t an impossible goal,” he says. “It’s something that can be achieved and that many cities and towns are well down the track toward addressing.”

Mayor Tennent points to his own New Plymouth District Council as an example of what is being achieved in the area of youth employment.

The NPDC runs a comprehensive employment scheme involving cadetships, apprenticeships and scholarships. The first year of the cadetship scheme ran last year, providing young unemployed people with a year of on-the-job training, and resulted in all 14 participants going on to jobs or further study. The second intake of cadets began in February this year.

“It’s about communities recognising that they can make a difference in their area, and then finding a solution that best suits them,” says Mayor Tennent.

“I’m looking forward to finding out at this forum what other towns and cities have been doing, and seeing if programmes here and elsewhere can be improved.”

The two-day national forum will run on April 21 and 22, and will be attended by mayors and council staff from around the country, Government agencies, and community groups.

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