A new programme to help unemployed youth into the workplace is boasting its first success stories.
The Youth Connections Puketapapa programme graduated its first class last month, with all participants placed in either work experience or employment by the end of the eight-week Push Programme.
Facilitator Ana Marino says people come to the programme by word-of-mouth or recommendation from community services.
The class is limited to 12 participants so Ms Marino looks for people who are "hungry for opportunity".
Hillsborough resident Koli Tupou certainly fits the bill.
The 20-year-old was scouted to play rugby in Australia, but had to return to Auckland in December because of an injury.
Back home he found himself unable to gain fulltime employment.
So he sought to join Youth Connections after a recommendation from a church friend.
Mr Tupou says the programme helped improve his confidence, interview skills and public speaking. During the course he was placed in a two-week work experience at Gilmours wholesale food market.
"But after the first week they hired him because he was so good," Ms Marino says. "The manager was really impressed with Koli."
Mr Tupou says he is grateful for the chance to "show what I have and give it my all".
"Now I can support my family and pay the bills that were increasing while I wasn't working," he says. "Now I can stand on my own two feet."
The Youth Connections Puketapapa programme is funded by the Tindall Foundation, and is supported by the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs. The programme is open to people aged between 16 and 24 in the Puketapapa area.
"It's an opportunity to equip young people that are ready to work with the confidence to help themselves," Ms Marino says.
- © Fairfax NZ News