Walking the talk: Youth Employability Aotearoa introduces four new stewardship group members

 Written by Abby Buckthought

Youth Employability Aotearoa’s (YEA) new stewardship group members reflect the values of the organisation as they bring a wealth of new skills, new perspectives, creativity, and innovation to the table at a crucial time.

YEA is ‘walking the talk’ as they introduce new members Kauri Tearaura, Serena Tiaiti, Jerome Tairi, and Jared Tuoro to the group, all of whom are undertaking impactful and important work with youth in the employability space throughout a variety of sectors.

Kauri Tearaura

Pathways Coordinator at Rototuna High Schools

As the youngest member of the stewardship group, 21-year-old Kauri offers an informed perspective, having experienced the internal workings of the current education system firsthand.

He says, “the issues I was facing as a young person who left school, looking for training, employment and education opportunities, are pretty much the same as they are now – so my experience having been through that is my superpower; the fact that I have that lived experience transitioning out of secondary school is what I can bring to the table.”

His passion lies in increasing youth voice, particularly in governance spaces. He explains, saying “generally, the voice of young people is considered at the bottom of everything going on, but if we can engage the rangatahi voice from the top down then we can ensure that everything is for youth and by youth”

Kauri also credits his ability to generate impact, increasing rangatahi voice as per his passion, to his ‘superpower’ of youth, saying “I love to be on the ground connecting with young people, being relatable, and having face to face interactions, it’s a really important thing – because a lot of young people can be put off having conversations with older people, especially in the corporate world.”

Harnessing Kauri’s identity as a young person and the added diversity this brings to the stewardship group will certainly be virtuous when it comes to enacting YEA’s kaupapa.

Kauri says he is most looking forward to “making the best use of what knowledge I have of growing up in the 21st century and how it’s going to impact coming generations” within his new role.

Serena Tiaiti

Manager of student employability and careers at Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

As an experienced career practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in the tertiary space, Serena has witnessed the metamorphosis of employability and careers, and the implications of this for youth.

Serena says she “fell into” careers after completing her undergraduate degree in science. As she gained life experience through working in various part-time customer service roles, she realised her passion lay within helping others – she says, “I came away from working with data and things and moved towards relationships and people.”

She particularly appreciates the progressive nature of her work, acknowledging AUT as a ‘pioneer and innovator’ in youth employability, as over 90% of their programmes involve a work placement or work experience paper in order to prepare students for industry. It is also the first NZ university to establish a recruitment agency for students and graduates.

Working in such a forward-thinking space means Serena is able to be innovative and open to new ways to empower youth in the careers and employability area.

She says that what she enjoys the most about her work is “helping students get where they need to be, whatever that looks like for them – success can look different for everyone; whatever interaction I’ve had with a student, I want it to have been a positive interaction for them.”

Serena is excited to join the stewardship group so she can “be part of a community of changemakers with a common purpose and common goal towards helping our rangatahi.”

She is most looking forward to connecting and networking with likeminded members of the group and cross-pollinating ideas to build on and support one another, driving change and bringing forward the vision that YEA has for rangatahi, saying “I want to be connected to people who have the same passion that I do about employability skills, about careers, about making a difference.”

Jerome Tairi

Co-Founder and Lead Trainer at South Auckland Young Entrepreneurs (SAYE)

After having made the decision to step out of the corporate world in 2019, Jerome went forward to launch South Auckland Young Entrepreneurs in October the same year, with the purpose of empowering and enabling the success of young adults in employment in the South Auckland community.

As the co-founder of SAYE, Jerome facilitates programs helping youth and young adults to increase their levels of confidence, self-belief, and resilience, enabling them to progress in their careers or succeed in launching their own business.

Jerome says his ‘why’ is “to help someone achieve something they never thought was possible, so they can begin to understand, identify, and realise their potential.”

He says he is most looking forward to ‘having impact’ – having joined the stewardship group after seeing an alignment of values, he describes himself as a ‘passionate advocate’ for rangatahi.

He elaborates, saying “I understand them really well, I have worked with them for over a decade and continue to do so, and the reason behind what I do is to see them advance, that is genuinely the reason – to see them move forward.”

Not only does his corporate background offer an edge to the stewardship group, but so does his broader life experience – he contributes growing up in a low socioeconomic community to developing some valuable personal strengths; strengths he says enable him to “help rangatahi who have gone through or are going through the same stuff to uncover and realise the strength in their experience, the strength in their culture, the strength in their community, the strength in their upbringing.”

Jerome is results driven and sees a powerful opportunity to generate change aligned with his values within the stewardship group, saying “I don’t want to be a part of a group that, we’re just there to meet,

I want to see results and outcomes, so I’m keen to see what the results and the outcomes are of our meetings and projects that we decide to do.”

Jared Tuoro

Māoriland Tech Creative Hub (MATCH) Programme Manager, Māoriland Charitable Trust

A self-described “through-and-through sport fanatic rugby head,” Jared says he thought he was “put on this planet to share the gospel of rugby” – he played rugby, worked in rugby, and eventually even worked at NZ rugby in a development role before shifting to the employability space.

On transitioning out of the sports sector, he says “I had this thought one day of ‘oh, I think there’s more, I can create more impact outside of rugby” – this was the realisation that drove him toward his current position.

In his role at MATCH, Jared provides training, mentorship, and industry-led opportunities within the programme pathway, developing rangatahi into producers, developers and thought-leaders of the future as they are led towards high-value careers.

The opportunity to generate system change through the stewardship group is what appealed to Jared, who says “the chance to make an impact, to make a contribution at a higher level and change and add value to the framework after operating at the coalface for so long” encouraged him to join.

As a child, naturally Jared’s dream job was to be an All Black, though he says, “as I got older it was really just to help people, I thought being an All Black, I could go out and open doors and help others have similar experiences or inspire them to chase their goals.”

This life-long passion and experience in the sports sector has carried over into his current work, where he utilises a broad skillset to empower youth through an empathetic, holistic approach – he recognises himself in the rangatahi he works with, and thus, is especially enthusiastic about getting more Māori and Pasifika sport whanau into the creative and technology sectors.

He is looking forward to connecting with and learning from others in the stewardship group, as well as to sharing his own experiences, saying that through “joining all the powers combined, we can make a bigger difference.”