Celebrating Success: State Services Commissioner recognises programme turning lives around
Mathew Feekes, UCOL's 'Most Outstanding Student' in 2013
State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie today recognised the 'Youth Guarantee' scheme – a multi-agency programme led by the Ministry of Education helping thousands of young New Zealanders earn higher qualifications and get better jobs and brighter prospects for the future.
More than 13,900 learners accessed 'Youth Guarantee' in 2013 – over 1,800 more than the previous year. Participation by Maori and Pacific youth was strong with 46% identifying themselves as Maori and 18% as Pacific.
The scheme encourages young people to get further education, training and work. It uses a range of interventions to meet this goal including enrolment in fees-free courses, trades academies, vocational pathways programmes that are part of the 'Youth Guarantee' network and partnerships.
More than 270 schools, 130 tertiary providers (including all polytechnics, all Industry Training Organisations, and Te Wananga o Aotearoa), the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs, a number of industry peak bodies, several iwi, and several Pacific Churches are participating.
"The 'Youth Guarantee' scheme is keeping young people engaged in education and giving them a stepping stone to higher qualifications. Through the scheme, young New Zealanders are able to build a strong educational foundation and move on to gain higher qualifications," Mr Rennie said.
"Our goal is to lift the aspirations and educational achievement of all young people," says Arthur Graves, Ministry of Education's Youth Guarantee Group Manager. "For these young people, making good choices about their future is challenging. They may have lacked the guidance, mentoring or encouragement to get them to think about their future – beyond their immediate needs and desires. The Youth Guarantee programme gives them access to the opportunities they need," Mr Graves said.
"In delivering on the promise of Better Public Services, the Ministry of Education worked closely with NZ Qualifications Authority, Tertiary Education Commission, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Careers NZ, Corrections, the Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs, and the Ministry for Primary Industries," Mr Rennie said.
UCOL's Most Outstanding Student
An example of a success story is Mathew Feekes, a young chef whose ambition is to work in the hospitality industry. Mathew is a Year 13 student at St Peter's College in Palmerston North, attends the Trades Academy at Universal College of Learning (UCOL) where he was awarded the 'Most Outstanding Student' last year. He has a part-time job at Joe's Garage restaurant.
But 18 months ago, Mathew was on the verge of leaving school, until he became interested in how a Trades Academy could help teach him the skills he was interested in learning.
Mathew joined UCOL's Trades Academy spending one day a week at UCOL while continuing with his education at St Peter's to achieve NCEA Level 2. Under the guidance of Kelly Gay, the Executive Dean of Trades and Technology at UCOL, and his team, Mathew explored vocational study options, received hands on work experience and got a better view of what he needed to achieve to successfully transition into work of his choice.
"UCOL prepared me for the real world," says Mathew. "They were positive, created an atmosphere for me to learn in and gave me hands-on opportunities," he says.
At UCOL, Mathew learnt how to operate the coffee machine at UCOL's Ambitions Restaurant - learning the difference between a latte and a flat white - prepared and cooked meals, served customers in a formal setting and worked front of house.
By the end of 2013 Mathew had achieved his National Certificate in Hospitality and, this year, he's tackling a one year Business Management Course. That means he has the flexibility to choose between managing his own restaurant or being creative in the kitchen.
UCOL was one of the first polytechs to receive government funding for a Trades Academy. In the three years it has been going it has "successfully morphed to suit the needs of schools," Mr Gay says.
"Seventy percent of students don't go to university. That's the bulk of them. Our job is to provide pathways for students so they can make sense of the confusion that often exists before a student leaves school without knowing what to do," Mr Gay says.
For more information on 'Youth Guarantee', see the 'Youth Guarantee Monitoring Report: Impact of Trades Academies & Youth Guarantee Fees-Free Provision on Student Performance'
Media Enquiries: Janryll Fernandez, State Services Commission, Communications Advisor, 021 472 598