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The Right To Work: Young New Zealanders

The Right To Work: Young New Zealanders


Getting young people into work is about preparing them for work and ensuring they have ongoing support: sustainable youth employment isn’t a tick the box exercise.

This is a key finding in the Human Rights Commission’s latest piece of work on youth employment, The Right To Work which focused on young people seeking work in South Auckland, Northland as well as disabled job seekers.

“Jobs change lives. Particularly in the disadvantaged communities we have been talking with. When one young person finds long term employment the entire family dynamic often changes for the better,” said EEO Commissioner Jackie Blue.

“These case studies highlight the need to focus on ‘work readiness’ and helping young people to gain the confidence, skills and attitudes necessary to find a job and build a career.”

“They also demonstrate the importance of providing ongoing support and pastoral care when a young person begins a new job, smoothing the way for both employer and employee.”

The Right To Work continues the Commission’s focus on young New Zealanders and their right to work, highlighted in its National Conversation about Work in 2009 and Tracking Equality at Work in 2011 in which the Commission described the work future for young Kiwis as a “ticking time bomb”. In 2012 the Commission welcomed national youth to work strategy rolled out by the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs.

The Right To Work is about building the aspirations of young New Zealanders and ensuring communities and especially businesses understand and embrace the long term benefits of employing young people,” said Dr Blue.

She paid tribute to the many youth providers supporting young New Zealanders in some of New Zealand’s poorest communities.

“I was bowled over by the youth providers that work in this space. They were passionate and all went beyond the call of their contractual requirements. They stressed the importance of getting youth ‘work ready’ followed by job hunting/matching and crucially supporting both the youth and employer once in the job.”

Young People with disabilities

Changing employer attitudes and overcoming discrimination are the biggest barriers to employment for young people; especially disabled young people. Furthermore, misconceptions amongst employers, that people with disabilities are costly to employers, adds to the reluctance of some to hire young people and this is a worrying trend. This perception is inconsistent with the evidence that employed disabled people add value to organisations and contribute to a productive society. Reasonable accommodations shouldn’t be regarded as a cost; but rather, a way employers can enhance productivity and enrich the workforce.

“Overcoming the discrimination barrier and proving what you can do rather than what it appears you can’t do. One student said, “We all want to go to university to study, but in saying that, when we finish we find it really difficult to find jobs. We want to work but we can’t find work.”

Workbridge chief executive Grant Cleland says one solution is to get more employers offering disabled youth work experience. “We need to make sure disabled young people are not forgotten.”

A lack of disaggregated data on disabled youth employment adds to the problem and highlights an absence of policies and programmes addressing this issue. It’s estimated that only 40% of all disabled New Zealanders are in the labour force: an opportunity cost of around $11.7 billion.

Making Aotearoa New Zealand accessible for all people is the key focus for social enterprise, Be.Accessible.

“We run the Be.Employed programme which works with businesses and organisations to enable them to tap into the rich resource of people with disabilities and access needs - people who offer unique skills and perspectives that bring value to the workplace,” says Chief Executive Minnie Baragwanath.

“We are looking to place university students with disability into paid internships with some of New Zealand’s largest corporates as a way to start to address this issue. The final objective of this programme is that these internships then translate into full paid employment opportunities.

Find out more about what’s working for young people with disabilities and The Right To Work:

Website: http://www.hrc.co.nz/eeo/the-right-to-work-maximising-the-employment-potential-of-young-new-zealanders/


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