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Youth Employability

The Youth Employability Programme: Licence to Work is designed to respond to business and industry concerns that young people may not be developing the employability skills - also called ‘soft skills’, needed to succeed in the workplace. 

YEP: Licence to Work provides learning activities to build these seven competencies - positive attitude, communication, teamwork, self-management, willingness to learn, resilience, and thinking skills (problem solving and decision making), plus a process to assess and record them in authentic volunteer and workplace environments.  

So far in 2019, 30 schools, wharekura and training providers around the country have signed up for YEP, including eight in Auckland. 


Who is YEP for? 

YEP: Licence to Work is designed for all young people but is of particular benefit to ...



Regional economic development agency, Toi EDA, manages YEP across the Ōpōtiki, Whakatāne and Kawerau districts.

Toi EDA's Workforce Development Manager, Barbara MacLennan, is excited by the growth of YEP this year, with five of the six local mainstream secondary schools now offering the programme and two kura planning for implementation later this year.

Additionally, several youth employment-focused services in Whakatāne, along with a Kawerau-based business that trains cadets for industry, are weaving YEP into their programmes



Doing YEP: Licence to Work has taught Ana Lose Niu a lot of new skills. 

"It’s a good course and it’s changed me,” says the Y12 student from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.  

Ana is one of more than 50 students from three Auckland schools who received their Licence to Work from EMA chief executive Kim Campbell at a special graduation ceremony in October 2018.



Licence to Work has been "kind of life-changing”, says Reuben Halafihi.

Pictured receiving his certificate from associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa, Reuben was one of 11 YEP graduates in 2017 from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate's trades academy.

“It’s brought me out of just living in school, brought me to this big world. Opened up more doors.” 


Why employers value a Licence to Work

Why get a Licence to Work? It's better than money!

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell tells YEP Auckland graduates exactly why employers value the YEP certificate of achievement. 

"It's the gift that keeps on giving for the rest of your life."


Employers talk about Licence to Work


Employers from the Active Tairawhiti Business Hub talk about why they support YEP: Licence to Work.




How schools benefit from Licence to Work

Southern Cross Campus



Sir Edmund Hilary Collegiate



Coastal Taranaki School 

with Taranaki Futures 




Can you offer work experience for YEP students at your business?

Would you like YEP: Licence to Work at your school or organisation? 



COMET Auckland provides training and support, along with manuals and workbooks for schools, education providers, iwi, youth, community and service groups to deliver YEP to their young people.

On completion, YEP participants have:

evidence of their employability skills and work readiness from assessments

participated in 18 interactive employability teaching and learning sessions

done at least 20 hours of community service work with a recognised organisation

taken part in at least 80 hours of work experience in local companies

a Licence to Work certificate and portfolio to show prospective employers

 YEP is based on seven core employability skills - positive attitude, communication, teamwork, self-management, willingness to learn, resilience, and thinking skills (problem solving and decision making). 

These have been developed in consultation with government, education, employers, and industry groups and are also the core skills in the national Employability Skills Framework.


Why do we need YEP?

In an EMA survey of 1000 employers in 2015, they rated ‘soft skills’ like workplace fit, communication, teamwork and problem-solving ahead of relevant qualifications as the most important requirements when hiring new employees. 

The survey reinforced a 2013 study Enhancing Youth Employability by COMET Auckland and Auckland Council's Research and Monitoring Unit, which identified lack of employability and work-readiness skills as one of the main reasons for youth unemployment.

In 2017, more than 25,000 Aucklanders aged 15-24 were NEETs – not in education, employment or training. That’s about one in every 10. We know the Māori rate for NEETs is higher. 

Students who stay longer at school are more likely to attain NCEA Level 2 or above (96.9 percent by age 18). But the number of Māori students leaving school before the age of 17 is stuck around 30 percent. 

We know anecdotally from students in previous years that YEP is an incentive to stay at school, because they can see a pathway towards further training and work. This is one reason we’re excited to be working with several kura kaupapa Māori to trial a Mātauranga Māori approach to YEP: Licence to Work. 


Who is behind YEP?

The Youth Employability Programme was developed by COMET Auckland and its partner organisations, including Cognition Education, for use in Auckland schools and youth service organisations. 

YEP: Licence to Work is governed by a steering group, chaired by COMET Auckland, with partners from different sectors including: 

Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), Greater East Tamaki Business Association, SkyCity Auckland Ltd, ATEED - Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Ministry of Education, Te Puni Kokiri, Tertiary Education Commission. 


Links to more research, online resources and media coverage