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Working with business and industry

10 March 2020.

Programme helps employers hire and retain young people

A programme to help employers engage effectively with their younger employees has been created through a collaboration between MSD, the Auckland Business Chamber and its wider national network.

MSD Director Industry Partnership Amanda Nicolle says the Youth Ready Employer Programme provides a set of online resources and templates to help with hiring and retaining young people in New Zealand businesses.

"This is a programme that gives employers a pathway to follow and become youth-ready – something young people are looking for from workplaces and they’re prioritising that when they’re looking for jobs.

"The focus is on finding ways to connect with the age group of 18 to 30-year olds who we know have some common characteristics, operating styles and work expectations.

"New Zealand isn’t alone in trying to transition young people into work when there are the range of issues to overcome like social and economic disadvantage, mental health and other everyday barriers that block young people from accessing employment opportunities.”

Ms Nicolle says the resources support the work the Government is doing for the group of young people who are not working or studying in the 15 to 24-year age group.

"We really want to steer this group away from benefit dependency and resources like this are helping employers create the right environment for younger team members to do their best work."

MSD and the Auckland Business Chamber collaborated with UK-based entrepreneurs Jack Parsons and Ben Towers to develop the programme. Their focus is on helping employers understand, connect, recruit, develop and retain young people, while creating work environments that support wellbeing and positive mental health.

UK entrepreneur Ben Towers provides tips to Auckland employers for attracting and developing the young members of their teams.

Pictured: UK entrepreneur Ben Towers provides tips to Auckland employers for attracting and developing the young members of their teams.

Mana in Mahi racking up the milestones

Just 18 months after Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work was launched, the programme – which provides funding and support to recruit, train and retain engaged employees – is starting to rack up the milestones.

Participants are showing how much they can achieve and the programme’s on track to make an even bigger difference in the future.

The numbers alone tell a positive story: at the end of January, 360 employers were involved in the programme and 48 young people had completed their first year of work and training. And the programme achieved its placement target for the 2019/20 financial year five months ahead of time, ticking over the 600 mark overall.

When you delve into those numbers, the significance becomes very real because each one represents a life that’s been changed, such as 23-year old Alex Rafferty.

Alex was diagnosed with mild autism and ADHD as a child but has always set big goals for himself. With support from the team at Rowsell’s Collision Repair Centre, he’s now working towards a New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Refinishing.

"This time last year I wasn’t doing much, just chilling at home. I was just trying to decide what I was going to do. My spirits are back up, back to where I was when I was working a couple of years ago."

Bert Rowsell, who’s been running Rowsell’s for over 40 years, says the programme’s going well and he’s confident they can help Alex get all the way.

"We're going to have a few little things that won’t be easy but I think with the right people around and the support from [MSD] I think we can join hands together and help kids like this that need that little bit more help. We’ll pick him up and carry him across the line… and everyone benefits.”

Rick Lunn from training provider Smart Trade Solutions Ltd has also been helping Alex find out what interests and drives him and how he can turn that into a career.

"What gets me out of bed in the morning is guys like Alex. I’ll help steer them in the right direction through their training and all the way through their apprenticeships. There’s a job for everybody, you’ve just got to find what it is.

"There’s some people I deal with who I guess I will always remember and Alex will be one of those guys, absolutely. He’s loving it here and I know he’s very popular amongst the boys too."

Alex at Rowells

Pictured: Alex (centre) is loving his new career, with support from employer Bert and trainer Rick.

Supporting disabled people to gain and sustain employment

The Mainstream Employment and Mainstream Internship programmes give people with a disability or health condition the opportunity to gain paid work experience that will help them to get ongoing employment.

Last year we made some changes to make Mainstream Programmes available for more people. These included widening the age range and changing the criteria for educational qualifications.

The employment programme runs for a year and offers a wage subsidy of 80 percent of the participant’s wage or salary for the first six months and 50 percent for the second six months. Funding may also be available for specialist equipment and to help with transport to work. The internship programme allows disabled tertiary students the opportunity to get paid work experience in their area of study. The programme provides a 100 percent wage subsidy for up to 12 weeks.

Both programmes are accessed through Employment Service providers contracted by MSD. Their employment consultants help disabled people to find work and then provide ongoing support for them and their employer.

Mainstream participants have worked in a range of roles over the years including automotive, construction, IT, hospitality, childcare, law, hairdressing, aged care and floristry. Around 40 percent of the disabled people who participate in the Mainstream programme are either retained by their employer at the end of the programme or go straight into other paid employment.

Find out more about Mainstream Employment or Mainstream Internships. You can also contact us by email -

Mainstream participant Rebecca Dubber, who works at Halberg, speaks at a masterclass session on wellness.

Pictured: Mainstream participant Rebecca Dubber, who works at Halberg, speaks at a masterclass session on wellness.

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