Home About Us News Latest News Events Data and Resources Publications Snapshots Submissions Education Māori Languages SouthSci Talking Matters Youth Employability Community Notices Job Opportunities Previous Programmes Contact Us

Latest News

YEP: Licence to Work graduation

October 2017 - Around 60 students from three Auckland secondary schools – Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Tuakau College and Manurewa High School – graduated with their Licence to Work at a special ceremony this month. They are among more than 800 Year 12 and 13 students enrolled for 2017 in COMET Auckland’s Youth Employability Programme at 37 sites around Auckland and the North Island.

YEP: Licence to Work teaches workplace skills like communication, teamwork and problem-solving. An Employers and Manufacturers’ Association survey of 1000 businesses found they rated these ‘soft skills’ ahead of qualifications when hiring young people.  The programme incorporates skill-building workshops, 10 to 20 hours of voluntary service work and 80 hours of work experience.

For Manurewa High School Y12 student James Honemau, doing YEP has changed his life. "I was playing around and I wasn't focusing on school," he told RNZ’s Laura Tupou. Last year, he dropped out of school and moved in with his auntie, uncle, and eight cousins.

"I changed from there," says James, who is pictured (left) receiving his certificate from EMA chief executive, Kim Campbell.

After doing 80 hours of a carpentry job placement on YEP, James has now been offered a BCITO building apprenticeship which he plans to take up next year.

Manurewa High runs YEP through its Trades Academy Programme and 68 students graduated this year, with many in the senior year obtaining employment or places at tertiary establishments.

Twelve Tuakau College students graduated at the ceremony. Y12 student Shadae James, 17, (pictured left with Jenny Salesa) received her certificate from Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa. Shadae says doing YEP has given her a better idea of what’s needed for her planned career. Learning how to talk to customers was one of the valuable parts of her YEP work experience at a café. She’s returning to do Y13 next year and plans to go into the Navy.

“YEP was really useful because it showed me what a career pathway could be like in the Navy. It’s given me good options.”  

Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate has been with YEP since it began. Deputy principal Shauna Eldridge says all 11 students who graduated in 2015 are now employed or studying. “There are a number of young men here,” she told this year’s ceremony, “who are the first in their family to graduate with anything.”  

This year’s 11 graduates were all Y12 boys in the school’s trades academy. Reuben Halafihi, 16, (pictured right) plans to return for Y13 but is looking to go into one of the trades, probably construction.

“It’s been kind of life-changing,” he says of YEP. “It’s brought me out of just living in school, brought me to this big world. Opened up more doors.” 

Vaughn Birch, 18, (picturedbelow) is in his final year at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. He wants to be an electrician and is weighing several offers of apprenticeships for next year.

“YEP has been extremely valuable,” he says. “Learning how to deal with people in the workplace - I had knowledge of it but didn’t know how to produce and do the actual tasks.”

Jenny Salesa, who is the new Building and Construction Minister and associate minister for Education, told the graduates she wished there had been a Licence to Work when she was their age and leaving school with no clear idea of what work she wanted to do.  

This year the EMA has provided Manurewa High students with their high-vis vests, hard hats and boots to ensure none would miss out because they couldn’t afford the safety gear.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell (pictured right) urged the graduates to value their certificates. “If I give you $100 it’s spent. A Licence to Work is a goldmine that keeps giving. Treasure it.”

This is YEP’s third year and COMET Auckland’s skills manager Shirley Johnson says handing over the Licence to Work certificates is always a highlight.

“YEP is particularly important for schools in rural and poorer communities where young people face extra challenges finding work experience and entry-level jobs,” Ms Johnson says.

“Businesses find it challenging taking on the additional   responsibilities of supporting young people to build work-readiness skills when their margins are small.”

Ms Johnson says many of the Manurewa High School students did their YEP work experience through Auckland International Airport’s Ara job hub and some have gone on to jobs there now they have finished school.

Follow YEP: Licence to Work on Facebook @YEPAuckland