In my Mayoral role I am also part of the Mayors' Taskforce for Jobs, a group that now includes 40 per cent of New Zealand's mayors.
We've taken a fresh look at the accepted views on youth unemployment and collectively decided it just is not good enough. Economists might be willing to accept some bedrock level of unemployment. We don't. We reject the idea in favour of a belief that we should be working toward more positive goals.
In this case the goal we have set is that by 2005 no young person will be without either work or training. In Christchurch we are a lot closer to hitting that mark thanks to ideas like the Actionworks programme jointly run by CDC and WINZ. As early as next year we may find that goal is within our grasp.
Nationally, and locally getting to that goal is going to take some practical action on our part to plug some of the gaps that are too easy to find in our school to work mechanisms.
One of the most simple bits of data you could think of is that of where kids are going when they leave school and what their goals are.
We have found that this is one of the major gaps in putting together a truly effective school to work or training strategy. The data is simply not there. If it is you can have a major problem finding it. Some schools track aspirations and goals but then keep the data to themselves. Others don't at all. Up until now there has actually not been any substantial or centrally held data available on where our kids are going.
Today is the first step toward changing that, locally and nationally. We have picked on Christchurch and Porirua as the first cities to start formally collecting the information on both the aspirations and destinations of young people leaving school from Year 11 onwards.
Career Services will handle the mechanics while I and Jenny Brash in Porirua, will provide the leadership in getting the community behind this plan. We have to do this. If we are to reach our goal it will be enormously helpful to know just where young people want to go and how we can help them get there.
There is no resource we should support as strongly as the potential of our young people. This new tracking scheme will help us help them reach toward their full potential.