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Positive futures for young New Zealanders

Hon Steve Maharey
28 April 2005 Speech Notes

Positive futures for young New Zealanders
Speech for launch of Porirua Youth Transitions Services

Good morning everyone. It’s a pleasure for me to join you today for the launch of the Porirua Youth Transitions Service.

This is an opportunity for me to congratulate everyone involved in getting the Porirua Youth Transitions partnership together, and to talk about the unique shape that Porirua YTS will take. It’s also an opportunity for me to update you on the progress we’re making with the 13 other Youth Transitions Services around New Zealand, and the government’s wider work to promote youth employment.

Welcome to Jenny Brash, Mayor of Porirua City, whose leadership has been central to the development of Porirua YTS; to Work and Income Regional Commissioner Mike Bryant; to Porirua City Chief Executive Roger Blakely and his team, who have successfully designed an innovative and wide-ranging partnership; and to members of Porirua YTS’ ‘Coalition’ of community providers: Partners Porirua, PAMPAS, the Learning Shop, and Youth Workers Network.

A very warm welcome, too, to the Maori, Pacific, and community groups, schools, government agencies, and businesses who have contributed to the design of Porirua YTS, and will continue to be active participants; and to everyone who has come along to learn about the partnership and the opportunities it will offer young people in the city.

The need for Youth Transitions Services

This government has a strong focus on young people, and a strong commitment to working in partnership with communities to help our young people secure positive futures.

The success of our young people is crucial to our success as a nation. Our young people today are the leaders, workers, and parents of tomorrow. Their transition from school to work or further education is a crucial stage in their lives.

Most of our young people leave school with a positive destination, and a firm plan for how to get there. Some of our young people, however, are at risk of missing out on a good transition to work, training, or further education. Evidence tells us time and again that these young people at much higher risk of poor outcomes like long-term unemployment and antisocial activity like crime.

These are the reasons the government and the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs adopted a shared goal of having all 15-19 year olds in work, education, training or a suitable activity by 2007.

In 2003, an estimated 85 to 90 per cent of 15-to-19 year olds were engaged in some form of employment, education, or training. Today, that has increased to around 92 per cent; a definite improvement, but still not good enough. We need to intensify our efforts for the 8 per cent who are still in danger of slipping through the cracks.

This is an excellent time for us to act. More than two million New Zealanders are now in work. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, and economic growth running higher than the OECD average for the past five years. Employment among 15 to 19 year olds grew 3.3 per cent in the year to December 2004. The foundations are firmly in place for us to deliver the services that target young people most in need of assistance.

Young people at risk of a poor transition need a carefully managed service that integrates training, support, and employment services. They need a service that encourages them to aim high; that builds on their strengths, and the strengths of their community; that involves their family or whanau; and that provides consistent support, from early planning through to follow up.

Providing such a service for at-risk young people is the purpose of the 14 Youth Transitions Services funded in Budget 2004. Each Service involves government and community groups working in partnership to deliver comprehensive and integrated services to 15 to 19 year olds at risk of missing out on work, training, or further education when they leave school.

Youth transitions in Porirua

The government selected Porirua as one of the first five Youth Transitions Service sites because you have the essential elements in place: a very effective and forward-looking Council, a community capable of delivering a successful Service, and an appropriate level of need among your young people.

In October 2004, an estimated 600 15-to-19 year olds in Porirua were not engaged in work, training, or education; around 16 per cent of the city’s population of 15-to-19 year olds. We know there is a need here, and that many young people in Porirua will benefit from targeted transitions assistance.

On the positive side, we selected Porirua because of the strength and vitality of community-based services available to young people in your city.

In other sites, Youth Transitions Services have a single lead provider, selected by the community. The lead provider takes on the roles of project management and administration, drawing together the services available for young people in the region.

Here in Porirua, rather than having a single lead provider, the Council will subcontract project management and administration to appropriate community organisations. This will spread the administrative load of Porirua YTS, and free up your community organisations to do what they do best: delivering the services that support and encourage the success of our young people.

Another unique feature of Porirua YTS is the ‘Think Tank’ that will act as a reference and governance group for Porirua YTS. Comprised of members of the Coalition and other community groups as appropriate, the Think Tank will identify gaps and overlaps in services for young people in Porirua, provide a community perspective on the development of Porirua YTS, and keep track of other local initiatives that may impact on the Service.

I’m delighted to see that Porirua YTS will involve the expansion of the Porirua YES programme by Partners Porirua. In the past 18 months, Porirua Yes has provided intensive support to over 200 at-risk young people, with 122 of them entering employment or further education.

Along with the Learning Shop, a central ‘one-stop-shop’ for careers information and advice, Partners Porirua will provide the mentoring, coaching, and support that will be central to Porirua YTS. The other two Coalition members, Porirua Youth Workers Network and Porirua Maori Providers Association, are ideally placed to provide referrals to the service, and ensure good networking and information sharing among other providers.

Overall, Porirua YTS will engage an extraordinary number of players. Schools, Maori, Pacifica, and community groups, training providers, and central and local government agencies will all play a vital role in ensuring young people at risk get the targeted, co-ordinated services they need.

Funding and branding of youth transitions

Youth Transitions Services were just one of the youth employment initiatives that got a $56.875 million boost in Budget 2004. Thanks to that boost, and to the Skills Package released late last year, over 7000 young New Zealanders now working as Modern Apprentices, well on track to our target of 8,500 by June this year.

By 2008, a further 6,000 senior school students from low-decile schools will have opportunities for workplace learning through the expanded Gateway programme. Students from 75 schools are taking part in the Designing Careers pilot programme that provides individualised learning and career planning assistance, while STAR – Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource -- is providing increased funding for secondary school students to take part in tertiary training. Finally, a three-year pilot is testing the effectiveness of extending the Training Incentive Allowance to teenage parents to encourage them to remain in or return to education.

The government is keen to see all this youth transitions work brought together under the umbrella of a single national brand. We’re making a distinction here between the Youth Transitions Services such as we’re launching today, and the wider youth transitions work that includes YTS and other programmes like Gateway and Modern Apprenticeships.

An overarching brand will enable us to raise the profile of all the youth transitions activity, increase young people’s awareness of and access to all the initiatives, and enable us to develop linkages between each initiative. Alongside the brand, a website portal will give access to a whole range of youth transitions information and resources for young people, families, schools, and providers.

The Department of Labour is currently developing the brand, guided by two essential requirements: the brand must appeal to young people, and it must fit in with the brand identifies of the youth transitions initiatives themselves, – such as the new YTS brand that is sharing today’s billing.

As for progress on the Youth Transitions Services themselves, I launched Waitakere YTS last month. My colleague Rick Barker launched Whangarei YTS on Tuesday, and the Rotorua and New Plymouth sites are well under development. Ahead of schedule, the Government recently announced the sites for phase two of the rollout, in the Far North, Manukau, Hamilton, Gisborne, and the combined Upper and Lower Hutt Cities. The final four sites should be announced by the end of this year.

Closing

By providing support, mentoring, encouragement, and practical help to the young people in your city, Porirua YTS will go a long way towards achieving the community’s vision for Porirua. That vision is that Porirua is an exciting place, with energy and heart; a vibrant and diverse city with pride in its people and cultures; a city of opportunity, freedom and fairness; a strong, dynamic, regional centre, with a vigorous and sustainable economy.

Everyone has a part to play in making this vision a reality. Local and central government, business, employment and training providers, community groups, and individuals can all work together to build on your city’s considerable assets and achieve your vision for Porirua.

Partnership is the central theme of the government’s work to create a prosperous, thriving, and dynamic nation; a nation that is inclusive, with opportunities for everyone to participate and reach their potential; a nation that embraces diversity, and maximises our enviable resources of people and environment.

Working in partnership enables us to develop local solutions to local problems. It enables us to develop initiatives that reflect their community, with the flexibility to grow and evolve. Working in partnership enables us to ensure that communities’ needs and aspirations feed into the development of policy and services.

I want to close by acknowledging the extraordinary work that has gone into the preparation and design of the Porirua Youth Transitions Service Strategic Plan. You had a short time in which to consult, and a very wide range of groups to consult with. Your consultation was intense and demanding, sometimes challenging. From it, you have produced a remarkable plan for a remarkable Service.

Thank you for inviting me here today, and all the best for the future success of Porirua YTS.

ENDS

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