Youth Transition Initiative helps students customise career pathways

Issue: Volume 97, Number 16

Posted: 7 September 2018
Reference #: 1H9kZp

Local businesses, training providers, schools and council in Timaru are working together to help young people connect to the world of work.

Azaria Sheppard has always loved chemistry, so she leapt at the opportunity to work as a lab technician at the end of high school last year.

Finding the right pathway after leaving school can be challenging. Azaria and a few of her peers were the first to take part in the Canterbury Youth Transition Initiative, a local programme which helps students, career advisers, teachers and parents connect to the world of work and find their career pathways.

“It started out with just a couple of us girls that wanted to have a gap year and this lady called Ginny from Aoraki Development, we just had a couple of meetings,” says Azaria.

“I told her if I could find a job in chemistry which would help me in uni that would be perfect and so that’s what I get to do now, which is awesome.”

As a lab technician at DB Breweries, Azaria’s job is to conduct experiments and make sure the company’s products are safe for consumption.

Azaria worked at McDonald’s while in Year 13, where she built a good work ethic and learned about being part of a team. It is likely she would have continued to work there full-time this year, if the opportunity to work as a lab technician had not been offered to her.

Azaria conducts experiments in her role as as a lab technician to make sure products are safe for consumption.

“I wouldn’t have had the initiative to go out and look at places and think that I was capable of getting a job in something I’m passionate about, so I probably would’ve just stayed at McDonald’s. It’s not something I was expecting, I didn’t think that I’d get such a good job.”

Getting real-world experience in her field of interest has also helped Azaria confirm that she wants to continue on to further study next year.

“When I was finishing high school I knew I wanted to go to uni but I wasn’t really in the mood,” she says.

“I didn’t want to go back to school for another year, I was just tired of it, but working at DB inspired me and made me want to study more and learn more about chemistry so I can build a career pathway in the future. So that’s done a whole lot inspiring me, and the people I work with are really helpful in planning my degree and everything like that as well.”

Connecting businesses to schools

The Youth Transition Initiative forms connections between local businesses, training providers and schools. It is led by Aoraki Development, Timaru District Council’s economic development agency.

Chief Executive Officer Nigel Davenport says connecting businesses to schools is important in a provincial area like the Timaru district because students may not be as aware of the different career pathways available to them.

The initiative facilitates a variety of sector days, career activity days, guest speakers, mentorship programmes and industry days out for students and teachers.

It also helps local businesses understand how the education system works, including aspects such as vocational pathways, dual pathways, NCEA and Gateway.

For some students, like Azaria, the programme has already resulted in employment, whilst a number have had work experience, holiday work and internships in a variety of industries.

The model is a collaboration which involves all the key parties, and is ultimately focused on the individual student, says Nigel.

“What is the best thing for them? What is the exposure, the education and excitement they need about careers that may be of interest to them and that they are passionate about?”

The South Canterbury Youth Transition Initiative is one of a number of initiatives that help young people see the world of work in different ways, says Ministry of Education Employer Liaison Manager Patrick McKibbin.

“To find out what helps most, we spend time connecting to organisations to understand how they help young people be successful,” he says. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:17 am, 7 September 2018

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