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Youth Employability

Eastern Bay of Plenty YEP Update (May 2019)


Eastern Bay of Plenty YEP Update (May 2019) 

YEP is thriving in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Five of our six mainstream secondary schools are now offering the programme, and two kura are 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. 


Regional economic development agency, Toi EDA, manages YEP across the ŌpōtikiWhakatāne and Kawerau districts. Their Workforce Development Manager, Barbara MacLennan, is excited by the growth of YEP this year“It’s really building on our 2018 learnings, including the value of supporting a peer mentoring group of YEP personnel from each site. This group meets roughly every six weeks to share experiences and learnings and to support each other.  


At the beginning of 2019, Trish Collett stepped into the YEP regional coordinator role for Toi EDA and has been getting to know key staff at each site and learning about the unique barriers and challenges they face. Trish reflects that Further building staff confidence and competence has been an initial goal. We have used the successful learning from last year to build a solid infrastructure with clear expectations and timelines. From what I’ve learned so far, these programmes take time to develop. It’s important to start small, take time to plan well, take risks, make mistakes, reflect and learn.  


Barbara says “Toi EDA highly values its relationship with COMET and the support and encouragement from their team. We’re also very fortunate that the Ministry of Education is so proactive and involved with YEP in our region. It will make such a difference when all rangatahi learn youth employability skills and build connections in the world of work during their school years.”


Murupara Area School (MAS) were 2018 adopters of YEP after their senior leadership participated in training in late 2017. Deputy Principal James Bracefield is the site leader and is delighted with the programme’s results so far. He has said that an early priority was to build a team of practitioners in the school, and colleagues Fiona Hewett and Ripeka Hawkins undertook the YEP facilitator training during 2018. They are now actively involved in the programme through their academic mentoring, Gateway and Trades roles. They both play a role assisting students to identify, secure, and succeed in volunteer and work placements. 


“A real highlight for our team this year has been catching up with the students who did their Licence to Work last year. Of the nine who started the programme, five fully completed it. Of those five, three are in work, one is at school and the other has clearly identified her career path and next step for training, but lack of public transport from Murupara to Rotorua has been an enormous barrier to her tertiary participation this year. (James mentions that this is an issue for many local students who aspire to study in Rotorua post-school, and that MAS has been advocating strongly for this to be addressed.)  


Two of the remaining four 2018 MAS participants gained full time work and left school during the yearhaving achieved NCEA Level 2. They had completed their voluntary service hours, and the employers they approached to ask for a work experience placement as part of achieving their Licence to Work were so impressed with them that they offered full time employment.  


Another completed her Level 2 NCEA then left school following her voluntary service hours as she wanted to earn in order do tertiary study. She’s now studying tourism and happy with her direction, says James. “She’s really clear about her pathway.” 


We’re so proud of all of the students who participated and were sorry when the ninth participant had to leave and focus on family matters at the time, reflects James.  

Ripeka and Fiona share a couple of other highlights for the team: “Seeing Hinemaia flourish in her local job at Kohutapu Lodge, where the employer is such a supporter of youth employability opportunities, was fantastic,” says Fiona. From there Hinemaia applied for and gained a job at a mainstream hotel chain and is doing really well. 


“And another student, Angel, got really focused on her direction, joined her partner in Wellington and is working on a roading crew in order to save for her study next year, shares Ripeka 


James sums it up in a few words: YEP makes a tangible difference for students and employers. It’s a great asset in our school and community programme.”