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Giving young unemployed in Waitakere a hand

Giving young unemployed in Waitakere a hand

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Rebecca, Hulita and Kayla perform their chant.

Giving young unemployed in Waitakere a hand

A group of 20 long term unemployed young people are preparing to make a fresh start through a joint training and employment opportunity in Waitakere.

After 13 weeks of intensive training, the Waitakere Cadetship group will work at Waitakere City Council as short term employees in a variety of areas.

The programme is a joint project between the council, the Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Social Development with a connection to the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs which says that ‘every person under 25 will be in either training or employment’. The $435,000 total cost is met by the Tertiary Education Commission, the Ministry of Social Development and the council.

While at the training provider, Best Training at New Lynn, the participants are making some huge shifts in their thinking, says Councillor Linda Cooper, Council Advocate for Children and Youth.

“You see them come in with their heads down on day one. Many have little sense of hope and think that that this is going to be ‘just another dead end deal’. The Manukau experience proves they will emerge unrecognisable from the initial training.

“They’ve had complicated lives in which things have happened to them, like family poverty. Through the training they become committed and on track to learning again.

“Somebody needs to cut them some slack. We are aiming from day one for them to be in fulltime employment,” she says.

The group, of 12 men and eight women - six Päkehä, eight Pacific Islanders and six Päori, is expected to start work on short term employment contracts of 39 weeks at the council, on 25 September they will be employed in parks, the transfer station, counter services or the cemetery and many other areas of council.

Programme coordinator Marina Mesame is the group’s fulltime “mentor”. Funded by the Ministry for Social Development, she will be based at the council during the group’s work experience stint.

Potential members went through a selection process that identified potential leaders and their ability to be cooperative. They were asked to be honest about their general situations: how they came to be unemployed and what they wanted to achieve, their passions and their fears.

Director of Best Training Anita Finnigan says that the Waitakere cadetship is one of the best models for training and employing young people she has come across.

“This programme has been resoundingly successful. It’s designed to have long term and lasting life changing effects. The message is that you matter here in the BEST training room, in Waitakere and on the planet”.

“The opportunity is given to them in an atmosphere of support, so that their own aspirations burst through – it’s their own energy that transforms their lives. The challenge is to turn their hardships into a winning post,” she says.

After five weeks of the intensive 13 weeks training, the atmosphere in the classroom is already electric as the students perform their ‘chants’ which are part of the team building process.

The students articulate clearly their appreciation of the chance that has been given to them.

“We are like a family… the teacher is like our mother, she keeps us together… it’s real… it’s awesome…” says Tainui Forbes.

Hulita Maka says that the group feels “there’s so much inspiration and support. We’ve really become close. A lot of the things we’ve talked about in this class are really personal. We really trust each other.”


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