Big cities tend to have greater opportunities for young people leaving schools. Our major cities have universities, a wide range of polytechnics and training courses, and more jobs for school leavers. Sometimes rural communities are concerned these opportunities are not available in their towns, and there’s a perception that lack of opportunities for young people can lead to crime and unemployment. This issue has been raised with me many times as the local MP. In the Wairarapa there are many pathways and plenty of support available to young people to find their way into training and employment. Some of these pathways aren’t always that well known.
Already, more Wairarapa teens are achieving NCEA Level 2 than ever before. Public Achievement Information tells us that in 2015, 83.3 per cent of local 18-year-olds achieved NCEA Level 2, up 2 percentage points from 2014. This means good things for the futures of local kids. Our teachers and students are working hard and the results are showing which will lead to further achievement later in life.
For teenagers who might not otherwise have achieved NCEA, through Vocational Pathways, the Youth Guarantee programme assists young people on their way to achieving NCEA and then to progress into further training, education or employment. The programme works by helping teenagers figure out their strengths and interests to create a career plan for the future. It is not always easy to know the best pathway to achieve career goals, which is why Youth Guarantee is such a great help in putting teenagers on the right track.
The Wairarapa can also look forward to the new Youth Education, Training and Employment Community Partnership. This will be chaired by former Makoura College principal Tom Hullena. The new initiative will help school leavers into employment through equipping students with the right skills and experience that match the demands of the Wairarapa job market. Lack of experience is one of the major barriers to employment which this programme will help to overcome.
Rural Education Activities Programme also provides opportunities for young people to gain skills for employment. It operates outside of mainstream education by providing practical skills such as computer literacy, gaining a driver’s licence, and learning English or Te Reo. It is available to all ages and for those needing extra skills for work I recommend seeing what they have to offer.
Higher education for school leavers is also available in the Wairarapa through UCOL and Taratahi Training.
UCOL offers training courses available at other polytechnics across the countries. Students can gain qualifications in health and science, agriculture, art and design, hairdressing and beauty, business, food and hospitality, education, IT, and trades. Hands on learning is often more effective than typical classroom education with students getting involved and gaining practical skills.
Taratahi offers courses and diplomas in agriculture. This is particularly important for the Wairarapa because so much of our economy relies on the agricultural industry.
Jobs in construction are now easily available thanks to the construction boom. Building activity is at record levels nationwide and forecast to continue until 2021. To support this boom, more than half a million people will be employed in construction related jobs by 2021. The Government is actively supporting the industry to train more skilled workers to meet the demand for new housing and construction. Budget 2016 announced a further $14.4 million over four years for 5500 more apprentices by 2020, along with $9.5 million for Maori and Pasifika Trades Training. The new funding will help meet projected skill shortages in high-demand industries such as construction and infrastructure. Demand for construction in Wairarapa will provide hundreds of high paying jobs to locals.
Wairarapa offers a wide range of opportunities for youth. Rural communities will never have as many options available as big cities but we have strong community support. Without help and encouragement it can be hard for young people to set out on the right path in life. It is important that they have the tools to figure out what they want to do in the future and know what skills they need to get there.