Southland’s future labour market has received a boost thanks to a cash injection from the Provincial Growth Fund.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today announced $1.55 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to support the extension of Southland Youth Futures – a regional careers programme led by Great South.
With a focus on improving outcomes for Southland youth and reducing the number of NEETs (youth not in education, employment or training), the funding will allow the programme to expand its industry involvement and increase employer and student participation.
Great South Chief Executive Ann Lockhart said the expansion of the programme will play a critical role in addressing Southland’s projected labour market shortage.
“By building direct links between young people and employers we are encouraging youth to realise the employment opportunities available in Southland and connecting local industries with the skills and talent they need to develop – the benefits of which are regionally significant.”
At present, Southland Youth Futures organises 30 events a year which help to highlight pre-employment skill requirements and the training and career opportunities available across the region – particularly in the primary sector.
Lockhart said the funding will see the industry focus of the programme expand to also include tourism, retail, construction and hospitality.
“While employers currently involved in the programme are predominantly from the primary sector, we are thrilled to have the resource to widen the programme’s reach and support development across the entire region,”
Lockhart said Southland Youth Futures is an excellent initiative that assists young people in gaining the skills and training needed to secure meaningful employment, adding value to their lives and the wider Southland economy.
“With the support of the government, PGF and local employers, Southland Youth Futures is set to build on its strong foundations and encourage ever greater outcomes for youth and Southland’s future labour market,“
The Southland Youth Futures programme was established in 2014 after the research report Our Forgotten Youth highlighted high levels of youth unemployment and the difficulties for local employers to attract skilled staff.
The programme now has 32 employer excellence partners plus more than 50 additional contributing employers, and supports 16 secondary schools and four foundation studies providers.
Going forward Southland Youth Futures will work with up to 6200 young people aged 14-20 years over the next three years, including annually working with 150 at-risk youth, and helping 300 youth complete a Work Ready Passport.