SkillsDevelopment1Two recent survey reports have highlighted the increased role of secondary schools in helping young people enter the work force with core employability skills.

A recent Australian study discusses the gap between how schools teach maths and the maths used in the workplace – and couldn’t have come at a better time for New Zealand.

We are particularly interested in the way maths teachers went into workplaces as part of the research, and explicitly identified the maths skills that young people need to succeed  in their careers. This was a smart way to identify the gaps in skills, where there are issues between information learned in school and how that is (or isn’t) transferred and applied effectively in the workplace, and what can be done to bridge the knowledge gaps.

In the second study, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce highlights how a working knowledge of ICT is now essential for getting a job. These skills are now part of every kind of job – from office, retail, to factory work. However, the demand for ICT skills is currently disproportionate in the number of students with relevant skills, with only 6% of students entering the work force with ICT skills at an employable level.

You can read a summary of the Australian report on maths skills here, and the full report here. Thanks to Workbase and the NZ Literacy Portal for sharing this valuable information. For access to the Chamber’s survey on ICT skills, click here.

For the full March 2015 newsletter, please click here.


Youth Employability: New resources now available

Young employeesWe have been working alongside the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Auckland Council in recent months, conducting research on youth employability in the city.

As a result, we now have two insightful new resources which we created for our Employability Forum on November 14th, and also for you to make use of in your work. The resources are a short and informative video showing interviews and focus groups (click here to view the video) and an extensive report (link to report here) highlighting the views, key themes and challenges for young people and employers today.

As part of the project, we spoke to a range of young people from all walks of life and ethnicities, as well as speaking to employers and business owners, to get views on the opportunities, barriers and challenges for both young employees and employers in the space.

The video is a useful resource that shows the different views, concerns and aspirations of young people trying to get into the workforce, and we also hear from employers on the other side of the story, who speak about what they are looking for in young employees and apprentices and what some of the common challenges are in employing young people.

The report, Enhancing Youth Employability to support economic growth in Auckland, was prepared by Alison Sutton and Shirley Johnson (COMET Auckland) and Penelope Tuatagaloa (RIMU, Auckland Council).

Feel free to share this video and the accompanying report with your networks, so we can all have a better understanding of the important issue of youth employment, unemployment and employability.

Thanks to all the young people and employers who made this project possible.

Building skills for work- A blog of two parts

Part-time work was a norm for most of us baby boomers. We delivered papers and worked in supermarkets and corner stores. There was lots of work around, and providing you were prepared to turn up on time and do what was asked of you, you could get as much part time work as you wanted.

Years past and we waitressed, mowed lawns, worked in local pubs, or got part time jobs in nearby stores. For me it was stacking hay and working in shearing sheds.  We learned to get on with people, show a bit of independence and good judgement and whether it was washing dishes, cleaning toilets or making cocktails, we developed a platform of work skills to grow a career on.

Today, it’s not so easy for youth to get part time work. The down turn of the economy means there is less part time work available and the need for two incomes for a family to keep their head above water has meant young mums are flocking back into the workforce.

To further compound a difficult situation, in order to get ahead, young people are expected to put in more hours at school or training for sport or music or whatever extra-curricular activities they have chosen. And then there are growing family and church commitments. Families juggling three or four jobs lean heavily on their teens to support with child minding, cooking and house-keeping.

This has all lead to the ‘death of the Saturday and after school jobs’. In the UK 16- and 17 year-olds combining full-time study with part-time work has halved, from 40% in the late 1990s, to around 20% today. We don’t have this data here in NZ, but it is probable it would reflect the UK situation.

Work experience is cited as the missing link for young people securing SME employment in NZ. It seems a big ask, in tight fiscal times, to ask businesses to invest their time and money in up-skilling young people, as in the short term it eats away at the bottom line. So – no experience, no job – no job, no experience. With SMEs making up 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses, this becomes a real problem.

My next blog will explore some innovative ideas from both around the globe and here in NZ – programmes which understand the importance of being future focused and which are successfully bringing together the needs and interests of both youth and business.

I would be interested to hear what ideas you have.


YEP1 gradFor many young people in NZ, this will be their last year at school.  Being prepared for this shift from school will have a strong influence on how positive they feel as the year ends.

Families have a key role in helping their teens successfully launch into the next chapter of their life-adulthood. Patience and perseverance will help, but dig in, as it could be an uphill battle all the way.

Decisions about future study, training or work are too important to leave teens to sort it on their own, to leave to chance or to last minute negotiations. In a time of high youth unemployment, young people who leave school under-prepared are more likely to miss out on the limited opportunities available.

In an article in the NZ Herald, Fran O’Sullivan highlights the need for the Government to get serious about youth unemployment.

Research has shown that young people have a lifetime of expectations and habits created by the start of their career-so those who leave school to ‘do nothing’ wear the scars of this ‘failure to launch’ for many years. If you want to know more about the significant impact of youth unemployment, you can read some interesting research on the long-term effects here.

Groundwork for family with school leavers

  • Sit down with your teen; discuss how best you can help them to grow into their new adult role
  • Support your teen to achieve at school or in training – Qualifications count!
  • Encourage your teen to seek out work experience – even if it’s voluntary
  • Create opportunities for them to build their self confidence and ‘work- valued’ skills such as self-management and communication skills
  • Take him/her to a career advisor or check out sites like Careers NZ
  • Help your teen build a CV and gather references
  • Check out future destination options – Use opportunities such as university open days and Workchoice Day
  • Connect with your social and work networks and let people know your teen’s study or work goal(s) – they may be able to help
  • Ensure your teen at least has their restricted driver’s licence by the time they finish high school, as some employers won’t hire a person without one.

What other ideas do people have for parents of school leavers?