Taranaki Youthworks

Lisa, Teacher Aide, Huirangi School

Youthworks is a project of the New Plymouth-based Taranaki Employment Support Foundation. It works with voluntary and other community organisations throughout Taranaki.


  • Youthworks helps to match and place unemployed young people with community organisations who need a hand. This provides work experience for the young people and has the flow-on effect of boosting the capacity of the community sector.


  • The scheme is based on the fact that many community organisations have great difficulty getting volunteers at a time when there is increasing demand for their services. At the same time there are hundreds of unemployed young people in Taranaki wanting the opportunity to do work experience and training.

    While it is possible for community organizations to access subsidised workers through such schemes as Taskforce Green, the Foundation found that most were still unwilling to take up the government schemes. Their reluctance, in part, reflected their lack of confidence in becoming employers and administering things like PAYE and ACC, as well as assuming responsibilities associated with health and safety requirements. And most voluntary groups have found they do not have the money in their budget to bridge the gap between a Winz subsidy and the wages they have to pay a new worker.

    Youthworks addresses these obstacles by:

    — meeting individually with community organisations and making them aware of Youthworks;
    — helping to arrange interviews with suitable unemployed young people;
    — training community group members so they can meet the requirements of the Inland Revenue, Accident Compensation Corporation and Occupational Health and Safety;
    — negotiating a Youthworks subsidy (to a maximum of $40/wk) to fill the gap between a government subsidy and the worker’s wage;

    The young people get work experience and training as well as involvement with people and groups dedicated to community service. Community groups get the advantage of having a paid worker and the opportunity to up-skill themselves by accessing support to employ, train and supervise a young person. The community at large gets better service from community groups. At end of the placement, the Youthworks coordinator helps the young person find a non-subsidised job.


  • The Employment Catalyst, in partnership with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, gave $41,600 for the first year of the project and expects to continue funding for three years. Funding is used as the to top-up the wages of workers employed by community groups.


  • In the first year there have been 40 placements in jobs ranging from clerical positions to gardening. Nearly half of the jobs also offer the young person opportunities for vocational training. Most of those completing a placement go into paid work in the private sector. Others have gone on to further training, prompted by their community placement.

    Melissa Waitara Project - Administration/Mentoring
    Working towards National Certificate in Youthwork

    One of the Youthworks success stories is of a young man who had not worked for nearly three years. After only two weeks working he gained confidence, improved his appearance and vowed that he was never going back on the benefit. After six weeks on the scheme his younger, unemployed partner, secured part-time work and between them they are now employed and sharing childcare duties. This involved a lot of in-work support by the coordinator setting up meetings with the IRD to sort out child support, arranging non-beneficiary help from Winz, and generally helping a young family that had never been employed. After the completion of his Youthworks contract, the young man gained work in a supermarket and has recently been enrolled on a trainee manager course.

    Taranaki Employment Support Foundation
    Department of Work and Income Taskforce Green
    Skill New Zealand
    Careers Service Rapuara
    New Plymouth District Council
    New Plymouth Mayor Peter Tennent
    former New Plymouth Mayor Claire Stewart


    “ Most of the resources required for the scheme were already in place. What was missing was the co- operation, collaboration and co-ordination of all those agencies and departments that have the resources and ability to influence the future of young people. The Trust provides the means to link those agencies and departments together ...”
    — Elaine Gill,
    Secretary of the Taranaki Employment Support Foundation

    — Download Elaine's Powerpoint presentation on this project to the "Spirit of Youth" Conference inn Rotorua, 21-23 May 2002.

    FINAL REPORT (Three Years Funding)

    Youthworks was initiated in September 2001 by the Taranaki Employment Support Foundation Trust. The aim was to provide 50 full time paid jobs for unemployed disadvantaged youth by developing their skills and helping them achieve qualifications. At the same time the project would make an important contribution to the well being of the community.

    The project was designed to marry various community needs and to work with the agencies involved. Community groups were under stress, the volunteer pool had decreased, and the demands on groups were increasing. Young people were without work or training. In the middle were the Department of Work and Income which had subsidies available for people to be employed in the community, the Tertiary Education Commission that offered Training and Careers Service Rapuara offering free counselling to disadvantaged youth.

    With leadership provided by the mayor, Youthworks drew these threads together and full time workers were provided for not for profit community groups. The proposal did not seek to promote commercial objectives, its aim was to increase community capacity and develop youth within the community.

    The Department of Work and Income agreed to partner the proposal and employ a youth co-ordinator, and provide a wage subsidy through Taskforce Green. At no cost to the scheme the Taranaki Support Foundation provided assistance and training in employment matters and administration for the community groups.

    There was initial reluctance from community groups to get involved which resulted in a slow start to the project. A survey of 230 not for profit organisations was carried out to discover reasons for this reluctance. It was discovered that past experiences had made them wary of subsidised work schemes. This meant the Trust needed to put a much greater effort into explaining the scheme to the not for profit groups and the strategy worked.

    It became evident that the quality of the Work and Income staff member working with the Trust was crucial to the success of the project. Youthworks was fortunate to retain a quality worker for three and a half of the four years of the schemes operation.

    Initially the top up payment offered was $40 per week per worker, however with the increase in the minimum wage this was found insufficient and in 2004 the top up was increased to $60 per week. This has made the scheme more attractive to community organisations.

    Youthworks has been an outstanding success.

    119 young people have been appointed to the scheme as at December 2004. All gained valuable experience and income from paid work. Sufficient funding is available to cover the costs of a further 31 young workers.

    With the range of skills gained, all but 5 have gone on to tertiary study or unsubsidised employment. Many had "turned their life around" as a result of the scheme and the employing not for profit community groups have had the advantage of having a willing paid worker.

    The community as a whole has benefited by having work done that would not otherwise have been done and it has enhanced the service to clients that the community groups can provide.

    Most of the resources required for the scheme were already in place. What was missing was the co-operation, collaboration and co-ordination of those agencies and departments that have both the resources and the influence to affect the future of young people. The Mayor and the Trust provided the means to link these agencies and departments together.

    The project was innovative and a first for New Zealand and is complimentary to Government initiatives such as the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme and the Youth Transitions Service. Taranaki, with an ageing population, has benefited by retaining employed youth in the region.

    Copies of complete report available from:

    Elaine Gill
    Taranaki Employment Support Trust
    Ph/Fax 06) 7534 584

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    Taranaki Employment Support Foundation

    The Foundation's mission is to support Taranaki unemployed young people with opportunities for work, training and education.

    The New Plymouth
    District Council

    The council supports the project as part of its wider efforts to foster work skills among unemployed young people in the New Plymouth District.

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    Work and Income
    Taskforce Green

    A subsidised work scheme which gives people who have been unemployed long term the chance to work full-time on a community or environmental project.

    Skill NZ
    Pukenga Aotearoa

    Skill New Zealand is a Crown Agency providing work-related education and training through a range of contracted providers.

    Careers Service

    Career Services is funded by the Government to provide career information and guidance to all New Zealanders.

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    “ I'm a member of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, which has a simple goal. By the year 2005 every single New Zealander under the age of 25 will be in employment or training. The region has 1600 people in this age group registered unemployed. One of the deliverables we've set as a council in our 10-year strategic plan is that exact goal. There's no question we're on a roller coaster and I just want to make sure that every man, woman annd child is helped to jump onto it ...”
    — Peter Tennent, Mayor of New Plymouth

    Claire Stewart, former Mayor of New Plymouth

    “ ... Can you remember your first job and that wonderful feeling that you had when you received your first pay packet? Sadly many of our young people have never had that feeling as they’ve never had the opportunity to have a real full time job... these are not young people who have left Taranaki to further their education never to return, instead they have stayed in New Plymouth and due to no fault of their own have been unable to get a job. But YOU can help and at the same time assist your community organisation...”
    — from the Mayors letter to Community Organisations

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    Project Contacts

    Taranaki Employment Support Foundation
    Secretary: Elaine Gill
    c/- 235 Frankley Road
    New Plymouth
    phone 06 753 4584