Tackling youth unemployment is an ambitious task but someone has to do it.
And a programme launched at Manurewa High School last week aims to do just that.
The Career Navigator programme, initiated by the Foundation for Youth Development, is designed to give secondary students the information to make smart choices about their future career paths.
It was fast-tracked after research showed 45 per cent of New Zealand's unemployed are youth aged 15 to 24, with the problem concentrated among 15 to 19-year-olds.
If the pilot at Manurewa High is a success, the foundation hopes to roll out the programme to other New Zealand schools alongside its other programmes Kiwi Can, Stars and Project K.
Manurewa High School principal Salvatore Gargiulo says many students leave school unsure of their options.
"Last year 95 per cent of our year 13 leavers had NCEA level 2 or better but at the end of April we rang around to see what they're doing now and a third of them hadn't taken anything on," he says.
"We had a talk to them and they'd say, ‘Oh, I thought of some things but I don't really know what I want to do'.
"I realised that getting level 2 or better is not actually enough. They've got to, as they're learning, have a bit of a vocational pathway. They need to have a concept as to why they're studying - and the best way to get that is from people who are out there in the field."
More than 300 year 12 and 13 students took part in phase one of the pilot, Option Selection on Friday.
They were addressed by Careers NZ, Manukau Institute of Technology and the NZ Drug Detection Agency as well as professionals from 12 industries, including police, hospitality, tourism, telecommunications, education and customs.
Foundation chief Marion Short says the programme aims to foster smart decision-making.
"So if I want to be an engineer, I need to take these subjects at school and I need to improve my performance in maths because I need to have math to build bridges," she says.
"All of a sudden that real world learning makes a lot more sense at a school level. It encourages improved academic performance but more importantly the students have set a goal for themselves - an aspiration outside their school years."
If the pilot is successful, the programme will be introduced to schools where the foundation's other programmes are already in place, she says.
"We look for those at-risk factors - so areas of high social deprivation are of interest to us but also areas where there's high youth unemployment or other youth statistics that are negative."
- © Fairfax NZ News