Keeping it REAL puts wellbeing at the centre of Upper Hutt City Council’s youth employment programme

Upper Hutt City Council’s Keeping it REAL youth employment programme gives youth realistic, engaging, ambitious, and lifelong (REAL) opportunities.

UPPER HUTT, Wellington NZ, 13 SEP 2018—Upper Hutt City Council has partnered with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to provide a programme to get young job seekers into meaningful employment. The programme was co-designed with young people, facing a range of challenges including health, wellbeing, and confidence issues.

Initially, young people aged between 18 and 24 were invited to individual interviews and goal setting sessions, and 14 were accepted into the programme.

The programme began with an eight-week intensive course. Participants learned skills and attitudes that employers say are essential for the workplace. These include having a positive attitude, resilience, and self-management. They also developed CVs and cover letters, and practised their interviewing skills. Participants were given the opportunity to gain an advanced work-based First Aid certificate, their learner driver licences, and practical budgeting advice. They were also supported through personal hardships and health requirements in an environment which was safe to address their range of needs. Most importantly, young people on the Keeping it REAL programme grew in confidence.

Externally, participants were also exposed to a range of experiences in the community (a first for some of them) including a day at Ōrongomai Marae, health and wellbeing activities, and visits to workplaces. Council staff, local employers, and local youth health services all gave their time generously, in a truly collaborative way.

Individual support for the young people continues for a further six weeks after the intensive course.

Keeping it REAL participants are positive about the effect the programme has had on them. “I got more out of this programme than I thought I would. I learnt it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still achieve great things, and it’s OK to fail,” says Taylor Steel-Wilkie.

“I now know where to go for help in the community, and I feel more confident to put myself out there,” says Samantha Andrews.

Of the initial group, seven are now employed, three have moved into study, one was awarded a scholarship to attend Outward Bound (and will have employment afterwards), and two are currently on work experience/volunteering.

Mayor Wayne Guppy presented graduating certificates at the end of the first course and commented, “It’s great to see our young people getting an opportunity and grabbing it with enthusiasm. Programmes like this not only help our young people, but help our community.”

MSD Regional Commissioner Louise Waaka said collaboration between the different agencies is key to improving young people’s lives in this way. “As a result of our partnership with Upper Hutt City Council, this programme is propelling young people into work, study and training. We’re thrilled to be able to be part of that.”

The next programme begins in October and Council staff are looking forward to the continued partnership with MSD to support young people in Upper Hutt.