Good Practices

LIFT Youth Employment

Written by Rafael Ortiz

LIFT Social Enterprise is a youth employability service with the vision to achieve 100% youth employment in Hawkes Bay.

 A holistic, whānau-centred approach is the heart and driver of LIFT’s strategy, empowering rangatahi to follow their dreams and achieve their goals. The programme was born four years ago, conceptualised by and for local rangatahi.

 LIFT Employment Coordinator, Graeme Ewart, says that it is important to understand that success looks different for everyone and different people have different goals.

“If you want this young person to be successful, let them try and chase their dreams. Not what everyone else is trying to make them do.”

By design, LIFT stays away from the white walls and strict rules of government organisations and the school system.

The LIFT space is open plan. From the moment clients walk inside, there is a smiling face to welcome them in. Rangatahi have access to a training room, an incubator hub, and retail space.

LIFT supports rangatahi beyond just getting them into the first available job. For rangatahi who have a creative idea they want to pursue, the incubator hub allows them to develop their technical skills and create that item.

Through local knowledge and community relationships, they facilitate work experience opportunities in industries that their clients aspire towards. This helps young people to overcome the barriers of lack of experience, or previous issues they have faced, which prevent them from entering employment.

They choose not to advertise when recruiting, instead opting to recruit from within, or from people they know. New facilitators must fit in well with LIFT’s established culture, while keeping equal opportunity under action.

The hiring process involves an initial day of work experience, followed by consulting with everyone in the organisation, “we get the other staff to say what they think about the person and the young people to say what they think and decide if we can go further. And of course, the person that wants to work with us what they think about it.”

The support people in the organisation range from Ewart’s role as “Papa G, the older one that can oversee everyone else from a senior perspective,” to an Aunty and younger peer support people who are employed by LIFT. Clients can choose any person in the whānau to speak to when they have an issue.

Building trust with the young person is key, says Ewart, “We know what we need to achieve with these young people, but they might not know that. But we will find a way to make sure they trust us to take them through that and lead them through that.”

The relationships that the LIFT team builds with their clients extend beyond the standard workday. They are always readily available to their clients, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

After the programme ends, there is an open door for clients to come back to share success stories or to seek further assistance, “once you’re in a whānau you don’t leave it.”