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The Role of Careers Advice in Youth Transitions

Hon. Steve Maharey
17 October 2003 Speech Notes

Leave No Young Person Behind:
The Role of Careers Advice in Youth Transitions

Address at the Palmerston North launch of Youth Pathways: He Ara Rangatahi. Career Services, Palmerston North.


Thank you for the opportunity to speak at this event. It is always a pleasure to attend an event that focuses on enhancing the opportunities available to our young people.


The Youth Pathways: He Ara Rangatahi is one of a number of initiatives that this Government has invested in the area of youth transitions. The whole area of effective Youth Transitions is one that the Government is committed to further improving.

Since the last election we have been working across a range of portfolios and agencies to implement an Education and Training Leaving Age Strategy.

This has the ambitious goal of ensuring that by 2007 all 15–19 year olds are engaged in appropriate education, training, work, or other options that will lead to long-term economic independence and well-being.


Make no mistake, this will not be easy. The last Census indicated that ten to seventeen percent of our 15 to 19 year olds may not be in any form of full time education and training. The complex circumstances of some of these young people will mean they need a range of support to get themselves to that point.

We will need to have in place a range of education and training pathways to meet the diversity of young people’s needs. Alongside this, we will need to ensure the social assistance system where appropriate, balances the need for income support with the opportunity to participate in education, training, or a job.

But if we can achieve this goal, it will be one of the most important achievements of the Labour-Progressive government.

The consequences of young people not being able to make a successful transition from school are significant and the economic and social costs to these individuals, and ultimately to the nation, are huge.


The “Education and Training Leaving Age” is not about a new legal requirement on young people and their parents. It is about a fundamental commitment on the part of central government, local government and society as a whole to – paraphrasing the famous U.S. marine motto – leave no young person behind.

It’s about a situation where no young person is being abandoned to sit on the unemployment benefit. Where every one of them is employed or learning or being assisted in some way.

If we can do that, then we will have made a significant positive impact on New Zealand’s prospects as a nation. If we are to fundamentally improve New Zealand’s international status, then we must dramatically lift the skill levels and abilities of our workforce. To do this we must encourage young people to keep learning, to keep acquiring skills and to recognise the benefits and necessity of lifelong learning.

Making sure that the young people of New Zealand can move beyond the school gates with confidence and success will be critical in our journey towards achieving our vision for New Zealand and building a knowledge society.

How do we go about this? The Government is developing a strategy to ensure that New Zealand has a comprehensive and integrated system of pathways from school to work and further learning.


Youth Pathways: He Ara Rangatahi is part of this strategy. It will improve our understanding of Youth Transitions by testing a method of working with young at-risk people in a ‘holistic’ and more coherent way.

The programme focuses on providing career information, advice and guidance support to ‘at-risk’ young people who are in the process of leaving school or have left school with no concrete plans to enter further education or employment. It combines career exploration and planning, coaching and problem solving, and creating linkages with the community. Participants can also be referred onto other social support services to overcome their barriers to work or further learning, such literacy and learning difficulties.

The programme, which is also being piloted in Napier and Christchurch as well as here in Palmerston North, will identify the best ways to help this group of young people set clear, well informed career goals and follow through on them. Information gathered will be used to enhance career information, advice and guidance support already offered to young people.

It is important for young people to understand the need to adapt their skills and gain knowledge about the rapidly changing labour market. The way young people manage their careers is a key contributor to their economic and social well-being, which benefits them as individuals as well as employers and society as a whole.

As we saw earlier in Kathie’s presentation, the famous Scottish comedian, Billy Connolly was quoted as saying….

“It’s really important in life to have a Plan B… especially if you haven’t got a Plan A!”

Many individuals, particularly young people leave school without a Plan A, which means their journey into the workforce can be very difficult and unclear. Youth Pathways trials an approach to turning that around.


However important information and guidance are, though, they are only one part of the equation. There also needs to be a range of exciting and relevant opportunities available for young people to choose from. We expect this will see some students staying on at school because they will be able to combine school and work-based study, and, for example, build credits towards an apprenticeship.

There will also be a diverse range of high quality post-school learning opportunities available to meet the needs of all young people, including our Mäori and Pasifika youth.


The success and enthusiasm that can be generated if we provide real and meaningful alternatives for our young people is evident in the Modern Apprenticeship initiative especially when you hear how Anthony Antunovich talks about his Vehicle Sales apprenticeship...

“A Modern Apprenticeship is the best sort of training for me. It’s hands-on, so I’m learning in a practical way. I also have a really supportive boss who keeps me motivated and checks on my study to make sure I stay on track. I love my job and this is a great way to get the skills I need to be really good at it. I’m hoping to complete my qualification in 18 months.”

There are currently over 5,700 Modern Apprentices in New Zealand who work in 28 different industries and businesses, towards over 260 different qualifications. Almost 10 % of these are based in the Central North Island region, with 22 different industries involved. The initiative will continue to grow over the next three years. Modern Apprenticeships will expand to 6,000 places in December and then to 7,500 in 2006.


Gateway is another innovative initiative designed to assist young people to make the transition from school to work. Gateway builds meaningful links between schools and businesses and allows schools to offer work-based learning opportunities.

The Gateway initiative makes it possible for students to embark on a national qualification in the career of their choice and apply general skill in a work context. This helps students to better understand the relevance of such skills and their classroom learning.

It is clear that learning in a hands-on, practical way suits many people better than a theoretical approach. Gateway has helped a number of young people make successful transitions into employment, Modern Apprenticeships and tertiary study.

Gateway is currently being offered to senior secondary students through 63 schools, 15 of which are based in the Manawatu and Taranaki province. Gateway is being progressively expanded to all 1-5 decile secondary schools, with opportunities being offered in an additional 63 schools in 2004. By 2007 Gateway will be available in just over 200 schools.



The Youth Training Post-placement Support initiative provides additional support for young people who have completed youth training programmes once they are in the workforce.

These young people will receive advice and mentoring, including support for them to continue learning once they start work. An incentive payment will also be piloted for youth training providers whose learners achieve sustainable employment or further education outcomes. Up to 1,800 young people will be assisted each year under the expanded initiative.


Another area of interest for Government is enhancing the transition for young people from state care to living independently. A pilot which is funded for four years and based in the Auckland region will provide 100 young people per year (aged 15-17) with support.

The support will be provided prior to, and for up to two years after they have been discharged from state care. Support will be individualised according to the particular needs of the young person concerned and could involve, for example contracted support services from community social service agencies, the assignment of a personal advisor and/or financial assistance to enable them to set up a home for themselves in the community.

Work and Income Regional Commissioners are developing or enhancing existing services for young people who are leaving school early without concrete plans to enter education, training or work. Support provided to these 15 to 17 year olds will be designed to prevent them from entering the pool of unemployment benefit recipients once they reach the qualifying age of 18.

Each of Work and Income’s 13 regions will have the flexibility to design support services that meet the particular needs of local young people. The regional programmes will be evaluated and good examples will be expanded to other parts of the country. The support services are likely to include:

 providing Work and Income specialist staff to work with marae, school-based, Pacific and other groups supporting local young people; and
 in partnership with other organisations, establishing community-based ‘one stop shops’ for young people offering services like career development and budget advice.


The Education and Training Leaving Age Strategy objective is an ambitious one. It calls for collaborative partnerships between government agencies, schools, tertiary education organisations and New Zealand Industry and businesses and the community.

The Youth Pathways initiative that you are launching here today will form part of the range of interventions in place to meet a diverse range of needs. It will also help us to understand what influences our young people as they make decisions that will affect their transition into work and further learning.


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