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Minister praises council youth employment programme

The ongoing success of the Hastings District Council’s youth employment programme was praised by Social Development and Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni when she stopped in for a short visit to council on Wednesday morning this week.

Minister Sepuloni had asked for the catch-up while she was in Hawke’s Bay to find out more about the Rangatahi Mā, Kia eke! (Young generation – Rise up!) project that has been running for a year, its contract with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) recently extended for another year.

In its first year, 25 young people participated in the project, which identified community sponsors who would take on individuals for six months, with the expectation that this experience would assist these young people to progress towards sustainable employment.

Previous project sponsors included Leg-UP Trust, Habitat for Humanity, SPCA, Hastings District Council, Heretaunga Women’s Centre, Te Aka, Mangateretere School, Hikoi 4 Life, Te Kainga Potiki, Whakatu Kohango Reo and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.

The youth employment initiative was aimed at getting young people employed, particularly those with health conditions or disabilities who could develop skills through community projects that would make them work-ready.

The council identified the project sponsors, and provided pastoral care for the participants throughout the process with the aim of getting them work-ready. The project has been a success due to the strength of the partners involved.

The council also provided practical support for job hunters such as helping create CVs, preparing for interviews, and identifying job opportunities.

During the Minister’s visit a number of representatives from different aspects of the project, from youth participants themselves to project sponsors and whanau connectors, explained their roles and what they got out of the project.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was outstanding to hear about these young people’s journeys.

“Their disability had not held them back from being able to find a career path they are really passionate about.

“We are committed to our young people and will support them with pathways to sustainable employment and on-the-job training.”

Ms Sepuloni said she was encouraged by what the council was doing in partnership with MSD to support rangatahi into jobs.

“The collaborative approach to youth employment, alongside offering pastoral care and whanau support appears to be working well.”

She said she was very pleased to be able to grant the second contract, which would enable 15 young people to go through the programme over the next year.


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