Josie Whaanga, project lead for Youth in Education Training or Employment Community Partnership (YETE). PHOTO/SALLY HEMING

Sally Heming

Wairarapa businesses have plenty of places to offer young people experience, but finding the potential workers is an issue.

Josie Whaanga is responsible for finding them.

She is project lead for Youth in Education Training or Employment Community Partnership (YETE), and says they have more work experience and volunteer opportunities than candidates to fill them.

The businesses work in partnership with YETE to support students gaining skills and experience in the workplace which then increases their likelihood of gaining permanent employment.

Statistics New Zealand says one in eight young people under the age of 25 is not earning or learning.

Nationally the number of young people aged from 15 to 25 not in employment, education or training (NEET) has risen since December.

The 2015 data from Statistics New Zealand show both Masterton and Tararua Districts have from 15 to 19.9 per cent of young people aged 15-25 who fit NEET criteria, and Carterton and South Wairarapa Districts have 10–14 per cent.

Josie says YETE has to be a detective.

“We are hunting for them everywhere, but not every unemployed young person is in school, or registered with WINZ,” she said.

“A lot of young people don’t sign up for the dole because they’re afraid of being stuck there for life.

“We have to find them, so we talk to the community, the youth groups, churches, sports clubs.

“We talk to families.”

The Statistics New Zealand report on rates of young men and women not earning or learning converge released on May 2 shows the seasonally adjusted rate has increased from 11.8 per cent in December 2017 to 12.4 per cent in March this year.

Statistics New Zealand labour market manager Sean Broughton said education and skills training for young adults are critical steps to help set them up for working life.

He said the NEET rate was important because it showed decision-makers how many young people may be getting left behind on the path to a better job and a better life.

Figures also show that, for the first time since 2004, the gender gap between young men and young women has almost disappeared.

YETE is made up of Wairarapa principals, careers people from schools, WINZ, Careers NZ, the Ministry of Education, councillors, tertiary providers, and Wairarapa employers.

Josie said Wairarapa was really good at finding its own solutions.

There was, before YETE, no sole agency fully responsible for closing the gap between what happens to young people when they leave school and the next steps in their lives.

“All three councils support YETE both financially and with young person placements,” Josie said.

“YETE is Wairarapa’s one-stop shop for creating relationships between businesses and NEET young people.”

YETE runs workshops and training sessions for businesses, teaching them how to relate to young people, and working with schools and tertiary education providers to ensure students are learning the skills needed for employment.

“This includes work experience and volunteer placements, and Wairarapa businesses are really supporting the initiative, so much so that we need more NEET young people to fill the positions available.”

For more information about YETE, visit www.yete.nz