Horopaki | Situation

Four youth stand with their arms around each other looking towards the horizon

Canterbury’s rangatahi (youth aged 15-24) are the future of the region’s labour market and economy. Supporting rangatahi to take charge of their journey through life, education and employment is crucial to enabling them to grow and develop. They are at the forefront of a changing world. We need to empower them to confidently share their ideas, values, and aspirations so we can listen and learn how to best shape the future structures of work and life in the region.

We have identified that some of our rangatahi face additional challenges to success that mean the pathways to fulfilling meaningful employment are not as straightforward as they should be. Rangatahi are also redefining what ‘meaningful’ employment looks like for them, with a greater emphasis on roles that ignite their passions and interests, and where there are ongoing opportunities for learning and development.

There are economic and social benefits when rangatahi can participate fully in paid employment and make the most of their abilities and potential. In contrast, there are also significant economic and social costs when rangatahi experience long-term unemployment, underemployment and disenfranchisement.

In Canterbury, Rangatahi make up 12.5% (or 81,440 people) of the Canterbury population (2021). Amongst this group we know that:

  • Canterbury has a Not in Employment Education or Training rate (NEET) that is typically below the national average (9.4% vs 11.6% as at December 2021). This is a positive sign but still also indicates a large number of youth for whom we can help improve outcomes.
  • At all levels of NCEA achievement, Canterbury was slightly above the national average (as at 2020). However, there are significant differences in achievement levels by sub region, ethnicity and gender.
  • Canterbury has an excluded or disadvantaged rate of 21% (21,258 people) compared to 23% nationally (as at 2020). Whilst this number is below the national average there will still be significant benefits if it can be reduced further.
  • Māori youth are especially disadvantaged and have higher rates of exclusion and lower rates of education achievement.

With Canterbury being one of the top training and education regions in New Zealand, improving the outcomes for our rangatahi is particularly important for the region. In a changing and increasingly globally competitive labour market, an increased ability to grow, attract and retain its emerging talent will enable Canterbury’s growth in the future.

There is also significant potential in the entrepreneurial and creative talents of many rangatahi, who have the breadth in their imagination to turn alternative future and climate conscious routes into innovative business and employment opportunities. This creates an opportunity for us to not just prepare our rangatahi for a future in the workforce – but to learn from them – so we can confidently transition to new and improved future ways of working.

Ngā taero | Complications

There have been significant social, environmental, and economic changes over the last 20 years, resulting in new roles, career pathways and ways of working that are unprecedented. For many of our rangatahi, entry into the labour market and workforce stability is very different to what their parents’ generation faced.

 A snapshot of some of the key trends that are particularly relevant to our rangatahi entering the workforce can be found in the MBIE and MSD sponsored report The Attitude Gap Challenge. This paper identified several international and national trends that impact future prospects of rangatahi transitioning from education into the workforce. The table below identifies some of these key issues and their impact:

Trend Impact
Increasing numbers of casual jobs Growth in casual contracts and part-time work mean many rangatahi are in entry-level jobs, or in jobs for a short period of time.
A decrease in job quality The jobs available to rangatahi may not give them promotion or development opportunities.
Many jobs across a lifetime rather than one It is likely rangatahi may experience up to three job roles in their career.
Getting a job from school is a process needing significant support Transition to employment now takes longer and there may be obstacles to overcome (e.g., needing a drivers licence).
Both qualifications and soft skills are needed to get a job Employers are looking for ‘soft skills’ from the start. (e.g., communication skills, being motivated and teamwork). Young people struggle to identify soft skills and to demonstrate these to employers.
Hard to get a job at entry-level with no experience Rangatahi often find it hard to get any kind of experience before looking for work.
Global workforce Immigration and the low-cost of travel make a global workforce available to employers, so our rangatahi are competing with a wider talent-pool.
Automation is disrupting many jobs Many entry-level jobs are gone; and other roles require new skills
People are working longer The population is ageing, and people are retiring later. Later retirement can include employers retraining an older person to do lower-level jobs instead of hiring and training rangatahi for these jobs.
Tertiary qualifications are expected by some employers Access to tertiary education can have financial barriers leaving some rangatahi unable to participate and therefore miss out on pursuing their career aspirations.

To help address some of the major issues above, ensuring rangatahi receive the best possible career development support is a key ambition of the Canterbury RSLG. Generally career development provision is not well understood and therefore not given the mana in schools and in the community that it needs in order to make a difference. Rangatahi themselves see career development as a holistic process, beginning in primary school, where career pathways evolve from interests and passions and are not limited to traditional or existing options. The career development kete also needs to be broadened to include, for example, support for sound NCEA subject choices, ‘life skills’ like financial literacy and employee rights, and building ‘living’ CVs that capture ongoing skill and capability development.

Inconsistent access to effective career development programmes and provision is causing increased inequality and a lack of equity within the region, and is one more factor impacting the wellbeing of our rangatahi, who have faced many unique and significant events over the last decade. This has also highlighted the need for ongoing and improved access to mental health services. With the current staffing pressures and long wait times for mental health services for our youth, there is concern that opportunities for positive early interventions are being lost.

We are also missing opportunities to engage directly with rangatahi to help shape the way we do work and business in the region. Board and advisory representation is often missing a youth perspective. If we can give confidence to rangatahi to amplify their voice, ideas and aspirations in the workplace, we will support more intergenerational empathy and understanding which will benefit everyone.

Whakapae | Summation

Canterbury’s rangatahi are an important group who will have a significant and ongoing impact on the success of the region’s labour market. Empowering and supporting them to navigate challenges and opportunities as they enter the labour market will have immediate and long-lasting positive impacts. Likewise, supporting them with a platform to elevate their ideas and aspirations for the region, will enable businesses to better understand how to adapt to the future of work. The Canterbury RSLG highlights some key issues and actions for rangatahi below:

Ngā mahi | Actions

See Hei mahi | Summary of actions for full details 

Cross cutting actions on:

Training pathways – Facilitate the development and uptake of new training pathways that provide ways of recognising prior learning, upskill new or returning staff, and support meeting immediate training needs in a cost-effective way.

Up-to-date training – Facilitate closer connections between training providers and industry to ensure training courses are up-to -date, use relevant tools and methods, build current worker capability, and develop work -ready graduates.

Best practice workplaces – Research and map best practice that fosters supportive workplace environments and a positive culture among staff, where diversity and safety in the workforce is valued.

Area-specific actions:

Career development support – Ensure the RSLG has a strong overview of regional programmes and initiatives that promote the improvement of career development support of our rangatahi, and recommend to government and provider initiatives to:

  • Facilitate the increased visibility, access and consistency to a range of career and education pathways.
  • Assist in connecting community and whānau to career support schemes.
  • Support and promote the mahi of CATE and CDANZ.
  • Support ongoing career development support for rangatahi after leaving high school.

NCEA achievement variance – Procure data to understand differences in NCEA achievement (by subregion, gender and ethnicity) within Canterbury, and what barriers might be influencing this.

Support Māori rangatahi – Support and explore ways to identify and engage with rangatahi Māori who are not in employment, education or training and connect them with support services (Te Whai Mahi Māori). Ensure iwi, hapū and urban Māori authorities are included in the design and implementation of career guidance and assistance initiatives so Māori can receive appropriate, responsive and tailored career advice.

Rangatahi voice – Provide a forum for the voice of rangatahi to contribute to career, workplace and workforce redesign conversations to help build workplace environments where they feel included, supported and safe.