Good Practices

On the Path to Success: The Youth Employability System in Taupō

 Written by Abby Buckthought

Linking youth with employers through a variety of programmes, Taupō Pathways for Youth Employment is integral to the community and its future.

As they facilitate the Taupō District Careers Roadshow, Pathways Connect, Apprentice Connect, License to Work, and their License to Work Ultimate programme, the organisation pursues their vision of all their young people achieving their potential for meaningful lives.

Manager Gaeleen Wilkie encapsulates this as she notes that “young people don’t know what they don’t know, so they need to be guided through that – we want young people to be prepared before we put them in the workplace, we want to set them up for success, not failure, it’s not just about getting the job, but keeping the job and creating careers.”

To do this, License to Work and License to Work Ultimate programmes involve a combination of training, volunteering, and work experience placements, through which youth develop valuable, transferable life and employability skills.

Once participants have undergone workshop learning, they partake in volunteering work, as “it helps them realise it feels good to help their community and gives them the opportunity to show us that they have learnt those employability skills, and that they know what it is that’s expected of them” says Gaeleen. Volunteering also creates positive youth narratives and valuable community outcomes.

Networking to identify and create quality work experience placements is crucial in the relatively small community. With twenty years of experience in the youth employability sphere, Gaeleen maintains and expands these connections with both employers and social services, in itself a full-time job.

She says “our employers are gold, and our most important asset, we have to look after them, it’s super important.” Through cultivating these connections, Taupō Pathways is then able to provide customised, valuable experience to their youth, often leading to full-time employment – they aim for eighty percent of their youth in further teriary training or employment.

Gaeleen elaborates, stating “we’re very much into authentic work experience, we start with career planning and looking at who the young person is and then accordingly, what careers might interest them – we don’t just say to them ‘well this job has come up, you have to have this job,’ because that isn’t setting them up for success.” She also attributes success to actively conversing with and acting as a bridge between parties to eliminate misunderstandings and provide feedback for development.

Social media has been an effective medium in creating new connections as Taupō Pathways have showcased their success, attracting youth and employers alike to their programmes. With hundreds of likes and followers across their Facebook and Instagram accounts, the organisation exemplifies the potential of social media for youth employability organisations.

Their highly skilled and passionate team are also fundamental to the success of Taupō Pathways, which Gaeleen acknowledges as she says, “the right people make a huge difference to the success of your programme – you can’t just come in, do your job, clock out, not care; it’s not that kind of workplace.” With staff from a variety of relevant backgrounds such as teaching, sport, and pastoral care, a broad cross-section of skills and knowledge, refined by extensive training, reinforce the work of the organisation.

Gaeleen emphasises the kaupapa of the organisation, saying, “what we do is just empower rangatahi and get them to realise that they’ve got this, that they can do this. Most of the time they really just need a guide, someone just to walk the journey with them, beside them.” Through robust programmes, developmental volunteering, authentic work experience placements, and expert staff, Taupō Pathways does just that; setting up the leaders of the future for success.