The new Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust base on 13th Avenue. Photo / Provided
A $2.47 million funding boost has become a financial seal of approval for a trust’s “prototype” youth program.
Donors also say it will help ensure young people in Tauranga have the opportunity to reach the
“the best possible results”.
On Thursday, the Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust received funding for its Imagine, Believe, Achieve (Moemoea, Kimihia, Taea) program aimed at helping young people who are not in school, training or work.
The funding is part of the government’s He Poutama Rangatahi fund, aimed at young people (rangatahi) most at risk of long-term unemployment and who may need additional individualized and ongoing support to connect to training and employment.
The trust is known locally for its success with the Tauranga Boxing Academy, which is an integral part of the program. The trust works with local employers to create employment pathways for young people in sectors such as construction, logistics and horticulture.
However, trust chairman Craig Nees said the program was about more than finding jobs.
“A lot of these kids aren’t job ready. That’s why they’re categorized as ‘youth need’. They may have financial insecurity, transportation issues, family issues, they’re not prepared to be employed very capable, but just haven’t had that support and mentorship.
“[Providing that,] That’s what drives us. We are getting very good results.”
The Imagine, Believe, Achieve program began 18 months ago as a prototype with a government capital grant of $407,400. Meanwhile, the trust, with the help of grants from the local community, moved into the former FitCo gymnasium on 13th Avenue, making it easier to provide all of the trust’s services.
With government funding announced this week, the program will continue for at least three years.
Nees said they have so far achieved a 65-70% success rate in getting young people back into education or employment. But the work of the trust was not finished at that time.
The trust continued to work with the youngsters for another 12 months after they returned to school or found a job, he said.
“It’s vital to keep them afloat.”
But such work was “expensive”.
“The kids are here four days a week, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We do a lot of field trips with them, teach them basic job skills, a lot of cultural stuff. The kind of young people who come into this program, they need intensive supervision because they are not used to learning.
“It’s not their fault, they’re just not used to it.”
Nees said the funding would help the trust provide consistency and provide five full-time staff to the program, “instead of worrying about whether we’ll be here in six months.”
The trust has four entries per year with up to 20 young people each. The program lasts 11 weeks before the 12 “post-pastoral” months.
“We just want to get the best possible results for the youngsters,” Nees said.
The trust was one of 11 recipients of funding from He Poutama Rangatahi.
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni said in a statement this week that such programs have already proven successful and that the funding would help put more people to work.
“A core principle of He Poutama Rangatahi was that local communities were best placed to understand the barriers rangatahi faced in employment, and the latest funding would support providers in Auckland, Wellington, the Bay of Plenty , Tairawhiti, Te Tai Tokerau and Hawke’s Bay.” said Sepuloni.
“We know Māori rangatahi are at the center of the program as many are at risk of long-term unemployment due to the barriers they face in accessing and succeeding in education and training.
“He Poutama Rangatahi continues to provide participants with life skills, work readiness training, and ongoing, intensive, individualized ministry. We know this is a program that works because it has helped 3,133 rangatahi who had been engaged in the program since 2018 to access employment, education or training.
“He Poutama Rangatahi, along with our government’s suite of employment programs, remains a key part of our plan to manage labor market impacts on young people, and as we build back better after Covid-19,” said Sepuloni said.