Sweet future ahead for our young people

100% Sweet, which supports young people into productive futures, has received a boost thanks to Whanganui & Partners, the Council’s economic development agency.

100% Sweet supports school leavers to prepare for a job or further education and training after leaving school and up to the age of 25.

The Chair of the Whanganui & Partners Board, Myles Fothergill, says one of the organisation’s long-term goals is to retain young people in Whanganui as well as attracting them from outside the district by offering paths to employment.

“Supporting 100% Sweet is a way Whanganui & Partners can put its money where its mouth is. By partnering with the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust, we have been able to continue to fund the role of 100% Sweet Manager Jason Shailer, who has done a fantastic job over the last 17 months.”

Mr Shailer works with schools and agencies to get young people into education and employment. Since the project began, 81 young people have been placed into work or training.

Part of Mr Shailer’s role is to get the Skills ‘Work Ready Passport’ into schools and agencies who engage with youth. The Skills Passport is a tool for young people to develop the skills, experience and attitude employers want.

Skills is an organisation which works with industry bodies and NZQA to ensure that qualifications provide the right skills to employers and industry.

“The Work Ready Passport ticks off things like good healthy habits such as getting enough sleep and keeping yourself fit, or how you’ve gained skills from taking part in community activities, as well as budgeting and communication. It helps youth think about the skills and attributes which are useful to employers. The focus is on matching school leavers with local employment and training opportunities.”

The Whanganui Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is a partner in the Skills Work Ready Passport initiative, interviews the young person once the passport is complete.

“They are interviewed about the tasks they have completed and the evidence they have collected in an interview setting, as if they were a candidate at a job interview.”

If an interviewee is successful, the young person will be presented with their official passport.

“This is a long-term, strategic project in partnership with Skills,to decrease the number of NEETs in our district and to get young people to think about the skills they need for the next step in their lives,” says Mr Shailer.

Whanganui High School, Whanganui City College and Whanganui Girls’ College students are using the Skills Work Ready Passport, with Rangitikei College and Nga Tawa Diocesan School joining in 2018.

100% Sweet stands for ‘Students in Whanganui, in Education, Employment and Training’ and is Whanganui’s solution to connecting school leavers with tertiary and local employment opportunities

The initiative came about through former Mayor Annette Main’s Mayor’s Taskforce on Jobs to reduce NEETs in the Whanganui District. 100% SWEET was set up by community stakeholders who saw a gap in a school leaver’s transition into their next opportunity

Current Mayor Hamish McDouall says, although many young people will leave Whanganui after finishing school for employment or work, is it great to have opportunities for those wishing to stay.

“The Skills Work Ready Passport and the 100% Sweet initiative enable our young people to stay here if they want and start their careers or working life in our district. Reducing the amount of people under 25 not working or training is great for Whanganui as a whole, as people working and learning are great contributors to our community.”