This year we launched the Youth Employability Passport (YEP) to help young people build, practise and integrate the competency skills employers have identified as being critical for them to succeed in securing and retaining employment.

The objective of the YEP is to establish successful education and industry partnerships that connect young people with vocational opportunities within the region to ensure students are aware of their career options in the trades and technology sectors, and have the opportunity to build their employability skills.


Around 100 young people across three Auckland schools and one training organisation are participating in a pilot programme designed and led by our Skills Manager, Shirley Johnson. The young people are receiving training and on-the-job experience, recording their developing skills in the passport along their journey.

We have generated positive feedback on the passport, with a number of other schools showing interest in the programme.

The Youth Employability Passport not only equips young people with the necessary skills employers are seeking, but it places them in industries they are passionate about.

Papatoetoe student Sirila Alao has aspirations to be a chef in the Navy, and has been placed at SKYCITY Hotel’s 24/7 staff restaurant and room service kitchen to get a taste of what it’s like to get behind the chopping board.

Before showing up to work in the kitchen, Sirila was taught the skills his employer would be looking for, such as attitude and punctuality, so he was able to make a good impression from the get-go.

Now, with the help of the passport programme, Sirila knows his dream to work in a kitchen is an achievable outcome and looks forward to stamping SKYCITY on his CV.

SKYCITY Apprentice Trainer and Coordinator, Martin Harrap, said the passport provides just as many opportunities for young people as it does for employers. He is currently supporting two other young people from the programme, and says the possibility of permanent roles for the young people is definitely on the table.

Thank you to our partners Auckland Council, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Careers New Zealand, CDANZ, Employers and Manufacturers Association, Employers Association Trust, Pathways to Employment Trust, Tindall Foundation, Work and Income, Workchoice Trust.

A special thank you also to the Lottery Grants Board, Work and Income, Auckland Council and Pathways to Employment Trust, who have made it possible for us to trial the passport, including bringing on a programme and logistics coordinator to organise work placements for the young people taking part in the programme, handle logistics and liaise with young people, schools and employers.

NEXT STEPS: At this stage, the trial involves monthly reviews to improve the workability of the passport. We hope to conduct an expanded trial in 2016 to further refine the programme. Already a number of schools and youth organisations have indicated their interest in being involved. Eventually, we aim for the passport to be widely used by Auckland schools, tertiary institutions and youth training organisations, and we are working with relevant government departments towards that goal.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Youth Employability Passport programme, or about our other work in the youth employability sector, click here.



passoportWe are delighted with the progress made on the Youth Employability Passport over the last few months. Workchoice have completed the final elements of the passport including: the competency framework, user guides, skills assessment matrix and the passport itself; “The Licence to Work”.

For the next stage in this process, the passport has been placed in the care of Careers New Zealand which is developing a professional development programme for teachers and youth workers so they understand how to use this passport.

We expect the trial for the Youth Employability Passport to begin in mid-April in several Auckland schools and a youth organisation.  This trial process will involve monthly reviews to improve the workability of the passport before it is rolled out throughout Auckland, and ultimately the rest of New Zealand. Other schools from around the country are already showing interest and wanting to be involved with this programme.

Supporting young people into work and further educational training is a core focus of our strategic plan. For more information on the project, please contact Shirley Johnson, COMET Auckland Skills Manager at

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.


For 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 a recent 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 2013 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?