Rangatahi bound for success with new course to employment

Issue: Volume 101, Number 6

Posted: 20 May 2022
Reference #: 1HAUD1

A new initiative with Outward Bound and Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga has been developed for rangatahi who are on a vocational pathway from education to employment.

Team work is a big part of the activities.

Team work is a big part of the activities.

Whakatipu, a new Outward Bound course, is designed to assist students in gaining workplace skills. It was developed after a hui in 2021 with lower North Island work brokers and principal advisors for secondary transitions.

Krishan Kumar, the community development partner for Outward Bound, explains, “The consistent theme from the hui was how a lot of students weren’t considered to be work ready, despite the employment prospects that were available to them through the education to employment programmes the Ministry of Education had established.

“So, following on from that, we approached the Ministry about designing a course specifically for those young people.”

The overall course design was aided by feedback from employers and there were a number of areas identified on how students could to improve workforce skills.

“The consistent areas for improvement were time management, how they showed up and how they prepared for work, being independent, or being confident enough to be independent with their roles as well as problem-solving and decision-making abilities,” says Krishan.

Krishan adds that the need to improve these skills has increased as labour shortages have led to employers “to go for a younger workforce.”

Many of the students who are still in school have not yet learnt the types of responsibilities and mindset that are required for when they enter the workforce, which has proven challenging for employers.

“I think a lot of organisations were used to having people come to them in their 20s or 30s or 40s. Having younger students challenged them as to what they thought the student would bring in terms of their ability to hit the ground running,” says Krishan.

Developing the right skills

The environment presents many challenges.

The environment presents many challenges.

To ensure students are obtaining the skills that they need, Outward Bound gathers employer feedback about the student’s areas for growth prior to the course. This is used to tailor the course delivery to their individual needs with targeted outcomes. The course will develop growth areas through several activities.

“We’ll be doing activities such as tramping, sailing, kayaking, high ropes and rock climbing. All of those activities are designed to put the students in situations that challenge them mentally, physically and emotionally,” says Krishan.

A lot of attributes that are needed in those situations are transferable skills, such as problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and leadership.

“Throughout the course, there’s a lot of time for reflection and group discussion and one on one time with their instructors as well.

“The workbook that they’ll complete during the course is designed to help them build awareness of the skills they’ve gained from those situations. Then we build their understanding of how those skills might apply directly to situations at work, or training environments when they get back,” explains Krishan.

This understanding is helped by employers who support students to transfer those outcomes back into the workplace, further education, or training on their return. The employer input makes the course unique as previously employers had not had such a direct involvement.

One of these employers is Steve McHardy, who works at LT McGuinness, a large building contracting company based out of Wellington. Steve works in the People, Performance and Capability team to provide development, recruitment, and grow retention, mentoring, leadership and team culture.

Having been to Outward Bound, Steve says he knows what benefits can come from going on a course and he’s a passionate supporter.

“The student we have nominated has impressed us already in the short time he’s been on the Gateway programme and I’m sure the skills he will develop on the Whakatipu course will help him transition from school into the workforce. It will provide him with confidence, self-management, teamwork and leadership skills. The time he will be able to spend on the course reflecting will also be so important,” says Steve.

Another key point of difference for this course is that it is a residential programme in which students stay for eight days at the Outward Bound school at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds.

The duration allows students time in the Outward Bound environment, which helps them engage with and adapt to the ways of learning, and greater opportunities for reflection. The requirement to travel away from home can also develop skills and independence even before the course starts.

The course gives time for reflection. 

The course gives time for reflection. 

For the majority, Krishan says it might be the first time that they’ve left where they’re from.

“And for a lot of them it could also be their first time in the South Island, which means that it’s the first time on the ferry or first time on a plane,” he says.

“It might be their longest time away from home and their usual support network. That places them in a situation where they have to become more independent.”

This year, places on the course have been pre-allocated to regions throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. For future courses, Outward Bound will be working with work brokers and principal advisors for secondary transitions (PASTs) in regions throughout the motu.

Together they will identify students who are engaged with an employer before they attend the course and are supported by that same employer when they return home.

Students are nominated for the Whakatipu course. PASTs can submit a potential candidate’s short bio to community development partner Krishan Kumar via email at kkumar@outwardbound.co.nz.

Students step up to the challenge.   

Students step up to the challenge.  

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:03 am, 20 May 2022

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