wta181116gfjosie Josie Whaanga is the YETE (Youth Education and Training in Employment) project lead for Wairarapa, working out of Wairarapa REAP. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

By Gerald Ford

The new project leader for Wairarapa YETE says preparing young people for work is a two-way process.

As well as educating young people in the skills needed to hold down a job, Josie Whaanga says employers and educators can also learn how to engage with young people.

“People forget they were once a young person, it’s a perpetual cycle,” she said.

“Young people still have (the same) needs. You have to invest in that space.”

Miss Whaanga comes to her new role from Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, but has been involved with YETE since the establishment of the initiative more than a year ago.

The position is funded with help from Masterton and Carterton district councils, Lands Trust Masterton, Greytown Lands Trust, Trust House Limited and the Nikau Foundation.

Carterton Mayor John Booth said YETE is “a wonderful initiative to support a pathway for our youth employment in the region” and he looks forward to “many positive outcomes”.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson describes Miss Whanga’s appointment as a way to “support key stakeholders working collaboratively so that we can provide the best opportunities for our young people”.

Miss Whaanga took place in last week’s two-day seminar learning about the Youth Employment Passport (YEP), otherwise known as a licence to work”.

She says “It’s a concept we still need to sell,” she says.

“We need to pitch it to employers and businesses, we need that engagement as well, the engagement of parents, the engagement of whanau, education – tertiary and secondary – nothing is done in isolation.”

“We’re piloting it and starting small next year, to get some runs on the board, (but) I’d love to see that rolled out in foundation programmes in tertiary and secondary education.

“It’s kind of a no-brainer for secondary, it’s a complementary fit for the curriculum – and for tertiary”.

Miss Whaanga said the YEP programme involves taking young people through a process of preparation.

“They start up with voluntary work and developing those key competencies and work skills that they need.

“Their willingness is already demonstrated, and then they move on to work experience in a paid workplace, and so we kind of scaffold them through that process,” she said.

Potential employers can help by providing things like interview practice, mentoring, or a business walk-in, Ms Whaanga said.

“It’s more beneficial for everybody when everybody is on board and knows what their expectations are – so we don’t set anybody up to fail.”