Speed Meets help students find pathways to employment

Issue: Volume 99, Number 15

Posted: 18 September 2020
Reference #: 1HABH7

Getting a foot in the door with a preferred employer is a genuine opportunity for students participating in Speed Meets, the event where employers and students ‘match’ to talk about jobs on offer.

A Speed Meet session in Kaitaia was beneficial for both students and employers.

A Speed Meet session in Kaitaia was beneficial for both students and employers.

Caprice Te Wake, 17, was apprehensive about signing up for Speed Meets: she found the prospect of face-to-face meetings with a string of local employers nerve-racking. 

“At first I was too nervous,” says the Year 13 Northland student. But after pushing through her hesitation, Caprice is keen to encourage other students to take up the challenge. 

“It was such a confidence booster for me. It’s like role playing but real, and it left me feeling really good about myself.”

Speed Meets is a recruitment event matching high school leavers with local employers. Each young person has a series of five-minute meetings with employers seeking staff; some wind up with dream jobs – and all come away with job interview skills and a better idea of potential career paths. 

Part of the Reform of Vocational Education ‘Events that connect Schools, Communities and Employers’, the Speed Meets run in September when students are through mock exams and focusing on next steps. 

“It’s also a good time for businesses thinking about preparing for Christmas rushes,” says Jess Kean from event organisers Education to Employment.

Point of difference

Jess says Speed Meets differs from other in-school recruiting events in that it gives young people the opportunity to explore local career options that they might not have considered before. 

“Every young person meets every employer, then they complete a ‘match’ and can connect afterwards.  

“We have had young people coming in saying that they want to be a lawyer because that’s what others have told them, then discover a passion for hotel management after meeting an employer. 

“And of course, it provides employers with the opportunity to meet a wide range of young people who are actively looking for employment and opportunities.”

Caprice’s teacher at Te Kura Taumata O Panguru, Nadine Scully, praises Speed Meets for providing genuine employment opportunities for students. 

“Our rangatahi need a lot of practice with real-world interviews and having Speed Meets come to Kaitaia meant our students had access. They were very shy to start off but after two or three interviews they were smiling, sharing and showing employers images of themselves. Afterwards, one of them said, ‘Whaea, he’s my whanaunga’.” 

Life-changing matches

A successful ‘match’ can be life-changing. A 2019 UNICEF report, Unpacking School to Work Transition, says that moving into employment is a critical juncture in a young person’s life and has far-reaching consequences regarding employment, wellbeing, social connectedness and standard of living. 

“In particular, the first years on the labour market set the precedent for future employment and earnings trajectories. Further, school-to-work transition matters for economic and societal wellbeing.  

“Limited economic prospects, on the other hand, lead to a mass of frustrated youth and high rates of youth migration to urban areas or other countries, with ensuing humanitarian risks.” 

Positive employer feedback

Feedback from Speed Meet employers is very positive. “Our first Northland event in 2018 was a one-off in Whangarei with 12 employers and 40 students, and this year we have expanded to four Northland locations involving 40 employers, 21 schools and 200 students,” says Jess. 

Speed Meets are organised regionally with one school hosting and surrounding kura and schools invited to join. 

“We have had many matches over the last couple of years: Keith Andrew Trucks, NZ Refining, Clements Contractors and Northland Toyota have all employed apprentices from Speed Meet events.”

Russell Newson from Keith Andrew Trucks says Speed Meets are the most efficient and effective way of recruiting appropriate young people. He has recruited many young people into the business’ work experience programme as a direct result of Speed Meets.

“Speed Meets works for us because we get to know the young person through them attending a pre-trade course and work experience with us, better than the other recruitment options we have. If they show good work ethic they are halfway there in being offered an apprenticeship. They get to taste the hours we work – 6.30am to 5pm – and the heavy lifting; they get very tired as they are used to school hours. 

“We can’t take them all on, but we are happy to pass on references for students who we believe would make good employees.  

“We have one apprentice with us as a direct result from Speed Meet 2018, two students with us for work experience following Speed Meet 2019, and already we’ve spoken with parents of students we’ve met at this year’s event.”

Visit the Education to Employment page(external link) on the Ministry of Education website to find Speed Meets and other school trades events in your region.

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

Posted: 9:01 AM, 18 September 2020

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