Southland Youth Futures working with students

Southland Youth Futures is a community programme being run in the lower part of New Zealand. It’s linking young people with career and training opportunities in primary sector-related industries – farming, horticulture, forestry, primary processing, manufacturing, trades, environmental monitoring, science and technology, professional support services (farm consulting, accountancy, legal etc), exporting.

Local forestry company, Rayonier Matariki, actively supports the programme, as coordinator Allison Beckham explains. “Southland Youth Futures began in mid-2015 and has been growing steadily ever since. We work with almost 60 employers; all 15 secondary schools in Southland (and one in West Otago); training providers; foundation studies providers; industry organisations; local councils; Government agencies.

“Rayonier/Matariki Forests’ Southland office is the only forestry company contributing to SYF at present and became an Employer Excellence Partner almost two years ago. Since then Rayonier staff have spoken at 10 school talks reaching 825 students, and hosted two forest tours for a small number of students (there are a few logistical difficulties with forest visits so we keep the numbers small).

Last year Rayonier also contributed to the cost of bringing a forestry harvesting simulator and operator to Invercargill for CareerFest Southland. We also travelled to Mosgiel (near Dunedin) and set it up at Taieri College for a few hours.

“The aim of our programme is to get young people inspired about a possible career path while they are still in education, hopefully so they do not leave education and fall into the deep black hole of unemployment. Also, there are many employers in Southland very keen to recruit enthusiastic young people, either straight from school or after they have completed tertiary training. Increasingly, the larger companies are identifying school leavers they like and supporting them through apprenticeships or graduate programmes. Southland has a rapidly ageing workforce and we need to ensure there are suitably trained young people coming up through the ranks to take their places”.

“We co-ordinate employer talks in schools, and workplace visits. We also do careers expos, interview skills seminars, provide industry information and Southland labour market information and contacts to careers advisers etc, and help employers upskill their recruitment and workplace practices. Over the past few months we have also begun promoting level-entry job opportunities suitable for young people on the SYF Facebook page. I also contribute where I can to industry organisations including the Southern Wood Council”.

“This year there have been 16 talks at 15 schools reaching 1375 students. These have involved 56 speakers representing 41 different companies – a pretty good result. This year’s tour has involved taking 178 students and 23 teachers/tutors from 15 schools and foundation education courses to 10 different workplaces ranging from software development offices and the aluminium smelter at Tiwai to a robotic dairy farm and the forest.

Photo: Staff from Rayonier/Matariki Forests and Fisken Wood show a group of students from Aurora College, Invercargill, a working log harvesting site and talked about career opportunities in forestry operations and management. The Rayonier staff who hosted the group were Acacia Farmery, Hannah Lawson, and Matt Thwaites.

Source: Southland Youth Futures