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Licence to Work "changed me"




Doing YEP: Licence to Work has taught Ana Lose Niu “a lot of new skills” and, especially, about the importance of commitment in the workplace.

A big test during work experience was making sure she got to work five minutes before her shift started.

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

“I wasn't used to it at first ‘cos I'm one that likes my sleep. So, I had to set alarms - self management and time management,” Ana says.

“I've not really been a good student but joining this course, it made me commit to something.” 

She’s now planning to return for Y13 and then is thinking about training for the automotive trades.

Ana is one of more than 50 students from three south Auckland schools who received their Licence to Work from EMA chief executive Kim Campbell at a special graduation ceremony on 25th October. 

More than 700 Year 12 and 13 students are enrolled for 2018 in YEP at 36 sites from Auckland to Marlborough. 

YEP: Licence to Work is a cross-sector initiative in response to industry concerns that many young people are not developing the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.The programme combines classroom learning, 20 hours of volunteering and 80 hours of work experience to teach the seven core employability skills. 

These skills - positive attitude, communication, teamwork, self-management, willingness to learn, resilience, and thinking skills (problem solving and decision making) – are now part of the national Employability Framework. 

Learning to work with others is one of the main skills Raymond Tuilimu picked up from doing Licence to Work. The Y13 student is looking at a career in civil engineering after doing YEP through Manurewa High School’s trades academy.

He’d “strongly recommend” YEP to other students. 

“These skills have helped me to get a job a lot easier as well as being more prepared for different kinds of situations in life - like for example showing positive attitude, also communicating well with others and just learning how to work as a team.” 

Doing YEP was a “real good experience” for Y12 Tuakau College student Hariata Cowley.

She believes the workplace skills she’s learnt like good attitude, good communication, and knowing when to ask for help will be valuable in her planned career as a secondary teacher.

“I had to learn you actually need to go and commit yourself. You know, get up in the morning which I'm not very good at,” she says.

“I've learnt through this programme that commitment is a strong thing in the workforce.” 

The YEP experience gets a big thumbs up from Raewyne Orbell whose son Matthew got his Licence to Work alongside Manurewa High classmates at the graduation ceremony. 

“It's given him the confidence to learn more about the trade that he's been very interested in for many years and it's fired him with a lot more enthusiasm.” 

“And he's loving it,"Raewyne says. "He's been enjoying going off and learning two days a week and then doing the work experience.”

One of the guest speakers at this year’s ceremony was former Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate student Selwyn Vaka, who graduated from the inaugural YEP course in 2015.

Now working in structural rigging and welding, Selwyn says he had no idea about employability skills before doing Licence to Work.

“They said you need commitment, you need qualities - waking up early, being on time and all of that. And I was like, 'nah I can't do that'. I'm always sleeping in an extra five minutes and always going late.

"But ever since the Licence to Work came in I started disciplining myself, how to get myself up in the morning, get on time.”

After school, Selwyn started out in building. His positive attitude, team work and willingness to learn soon led to offers of a scholarship to get his welding ticket.

He now works for steel fabricators Grayson Engineering. 

“We put up skyscrapers in town, bridges. And now because of Licence to Work, I'm looking into being a structural engineer. That's probably another two years of study.” 

Selwyn’s advice to the latest crop of YEP graduates is simple.

Memorise those seven employability skills because knowing what to do in the workplace is a lot harder than doing it in class.

“The work environment is not really positive vibes but because you have the skills, you know better,” he says. 

“You start being what they taught you to be and what responsibility you have. And then all these bosses at work are like, ‘oh man - should give him something to step up’. And you start stepping up and they'll start giving you a pay rise in a few months,” he promised, to laughter and applause.

"It's good to have these skills - memorise them, use them. There are a lot of opportunities out there if you apply these to your life.” 

That message was reinforced by Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell, who handed out the Licence to Work certificates.

“If I gave you a choice between $120 and this certificate, which one would you rather have?” he asked, to laughter and replies of “the money”. 

“Wrong answer! Let me tell you this $120 is a mere trivial piece of bagatelle compared with the value that sits in this piece of paper when you get it.”

Each Licence to Work is a certificate of achievement that tells employers what the person who has it has accomplished.

“More importantly what it says to somebody like me that's going to offer you a job - I will know what you did to get it,” Kim says.

“And that's worth a lot more than a hundred bucks because this is the gift that's going to keep on giving and it's going to keep on giving for the rest of your life.”