More young people out of work in city

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 21/05/2012

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Youth unemployment has soared in Christchurch, despite nearly 9000 young people leaving the city last year.

The Education Ministry has proposed building stronger relationships between schools and tertiary providers to halt the worrying trend, saying the situation can not be allowed to continue.

The number of Cantabrians aged 15 to 24 in employment has dropped by 12,300, the September 2011 Household Labour Force Survey revealed.

The fall comes despite 8700 people in the age bracket leaving the city last year.

The draft Education Renewal document, issued by the ministry, stressed encouraging pupils to explore vocations at school to ease the transition between education and work.

"The period has seen a fall in the youth population, increased disengagement from the labour market and a sharp reduction in the number of young people in employment," it said.

"Industries such as tourism and hospitality that have traditionally employed unskilled labour have been hit hard by the earthquakes and will take years to recover."

Education Secretary Lesley Longstone said the Government recognised traditional NCEA pathways did not suit all pupils, and some needed the opportunity to pursue vocations.

''For those for whom school is a second option and want to be working instead of classroom learning .... we need to encourage that," she said.

Murray Hobbs was considered a rebel when 12 years ago he established a mechanical engineering class at Linwood College.

Demand for places in the class is now so high the head of materials technology and vocational trades is forced to turn pupils away.

He said the Government's plan to encourage better pathways from education to work was a step in the right direction.

"This year we have a couple of lost souls, school is not for them and you can slowly see them starting to turn around when they enrol for trades," Hobbs said.

"Students still have the school community and access to sports teams and advice, but are also being trained for a vocation which gives them a sense of purpose.

"Now in schools, not a huge majority of students are leaning towards university. They want to learn a vocation."

Forty year 12 pupils are enrolled in the school's vocational courses, studying mechanical or automotive engineering, or building and construction.

Pupils work eight hours a week in the workshop, while studying four NCEA subjects.

They spend Fridays on work experience.

The aim is that pupils leave school with solid level two NCEA results and a level two National Certificate, the equivalent of pre-trade qualifications. Many have already secured apprenticeships because of the weekly work experience.

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Hobbs' pupil Elijah Neame is only 16, but already has his sights on a career. The year 12 pupil is studying engineering and plans to apply for a job in metal fabrication.

"My thing is metal. I'm not that great at maths and English but I'm doing the best that I can do," he said.

- The Press

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