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Investing in youth in the BOP

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A newly developed Cadetship Resource shares learning from the experience of a local company to recruit and support young cadets to thrive, and offers practical templates for other employers to adapt and use.

Local Kawerau employer, Deanne Butler, Director of SLH Contracting says that in the time of post-COVID recovery, it is more important than ever to invest in bringing rangatahi into Eastern Bay businesses.

Based in Kawerau, SLH Contracting recruits local people into labour hire roles that serve local industry and internal company roles in industrial cleaning, painting and ICT.

“We’ve always been focussed on our local people getting jobs, and after working with Toi EDA on a concept about recruiting more rangatahi, they introduced us to Te Puni Kokiri’s Cadetship Scheme which absolutely fitted with what we wanted to do.”

Barbara MacLennan, Toi EDA’s Workforce Development Manager recognises SLH’s strong capability to bring local rangatahi on board, and thanks to support from the Todd Foundation could propose to SLH the idea of them writing a resource to share their learnings and processes, so that other employers could consider and adapt the approach. She says that it’s part of TOi EDA’s objective to ‘create thriving communities’.

“The Eastern Bay has had persistently high youth unemployment rates for decades, and in the COVID downturn, youth employment is always hardest hit. We have to do everything in our power to address this, and businesses like SLH that proactively take rangatahi on are growing our future industry leaders.

“Right now, government is offering so many more resources for employers to take rangatahi and apprenticeships on which is great. But it is vital employers are youth ready if that’s their target group, and these new resources help them think that through,” says Barbara.

Deanne says the process of creating the resource and articulating the lessons, strengthened her own understanding of the importance of bringing young people into her business.

“We’ve learned so much more by capturing our learning through the Te Puni Kokiri funded Cadetship so far, and Toi EDA’s support, and are proud that these awesome young people are now employed by us, and other local companies. We’ve now recruited another cohort of cadets and are excited to be helping them grow their aspirations and skills.”

Antoni Loza, one of the six first Cadets has continued working for SLH, says the cadetship scheme had been ideal.

“The cadetship has been good for me with the training and extra support when I needed it. They care about me and my future and that makes me feel valued as a person not just a worker,” Antoni says.

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