The future for Southland youth is looking bright with the extension of one of the region’s leading career exploration programmes.
Southland Youth Futures, an initiative led by Great South to increase awareness of the employment and training opportunities available for youth across Southland, is expanding its reach with three additional staff to support the programme’s success.
The recruitment of the new staff is a result of the $1.55 million of Provincial Growth Funding which was granted in November 2019.
Great South Business Services GM Ben Lewis said with the recent appointments, Great South now had the resource to build upon the programme’s strong foundations and support development across the entire region.
“The wealth of experience and knowledge the new members will bring to the team, along with the ongoing support from educational institutions, local employers and sector representatives will encourage even greater outcomes for youth and Southland’s future labour market,”
Jan Ormsby, Renata Gill and Patricia Hoffmann have been appointed as Southland Youth Futures Advisors and along with Allison Beckham, will continue the work of the programme which includes coordinating workplace visits, employer talks in schools, leading the delivery of a Southland Work Ready Passport and encouraging employers to invest in youth.
With the funding and additional staff, the Great South programme will expand upon its initial primary industry focus to also include tourism, retail, construction and hospitality in its activities, events and initiatives.
Lewis said retaining youth and their skills in Southland was a key component to addressing the challenges associated with Southland’s aging population.
“Through the Southland Youth Futures programme, we are providing youth and local employers with the tools needed to address the region’s future labour market needs,”
Along with helping 6,200 young people aged between 14-20 over the next three years, the programme also plans to annually engage with 150 at-risk youth, increase employer participation to 125 (currently 86) and offer employer connection opportunities relevant to Maori and Pacifica students.
With strong connections to local employers and sector representatives, the initiative plays a strong role in strengthening local business by supporting businesses to adapt their recruiting and employment practices and invest in youth.
As a result, the programme now has 32 Employer Excellence Partners, with plans to increase this to more than 50 over the next three years.
Lewis said that by supporting local employers and assisting young people to secure meaningful employment, the programme was adding value to the wider Southland economy and playing a significant role in positioning Southland as a preferred place to live, work and invest.
The Southland Youth Futures programme was established in 2014 after the research report Our Forgotten Youth highlighted high levels of youth unemployment and the difficulties for local employers to attract skilled staff.