March 9, 2021

School leavers looking for work will have extra help this year thanks to a new scheme being trialled in a number of secondary schools.

The pilot Employment Service in Schools was launched on 1 February 2021 and will run until 30 June 2022. It is being managed by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).

It will run in five Ministry of Education regions: Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago/Southland. IHC’s Choices NZ has been selected as a provider of the service in Canterbury and Otago/Southland.

Kelvin Moffatt, MSD General Manager Service and Contracts Management, says up to 1000 young people will be able to use the service. It is available to students in their final two years of school and targets those with high needs or very high needs funded through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). Students without ORS funding, but who need additional support to learn are also eligible. This includes students with disabilities, with health conditions or who are neuro-diverse.

The Employment Service in Schools is an alternative to the MSD-funded Transition Service. It is being provided in addition to other post-school services and options for disabled people, including MSD and MOH-funded community participation and day services, tertiary education and open employment opportunities.

Young people interested in participating in the service first need to check if their schools have chosen to be in the pilot. Around 50 schools are participating so far. Pilot schools will connect young people with contracted providers.

“Work experience is important to help young people understand what will be expected of them in the workplace. Under the Education and Training Act 2020 young people are not entitled to be paid for work experience in school hours; however, employers may choose to pay them,” Kelvin Moffatt says. “If a young person is employed outside school hours, for example after school or at the weekend, it is expected they will be paid.”

The New Zealand Disability Support Network is holding workshops in the main centres for service providers, schools, students and families/whānau to explain how it works.

Schools taking part in the three areas covered by the Choices NZ contract are:

Canterbury – Christchurch Boys’ High School, Hornby High School, Kaiapoi High School, Lincoln High School, Linwood College, Middleton Grange School, Oxford Area School, Rangiora High School, Rolleston College, St Bede’s College, St Thomas of Canterbury College, Te Pā o Rākaihautū.

Otago and Southland – Aurora College, Bayfield High School, Blue Mountain College, James Hargest College, Kaikorai Valley High School, Otago Boys’ High School, South Otago High School, St Kevin’s College, Taieri College, Tokomairiro High School, Waitaki Girls’ High School, Wakatipu High School. “Choices NZ looks forward to working with families, schools and communities to find employment and real opportunities for these young adults,” says Choices NZ National Manager Toni Griffiths.

This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.

Read the full issue of Strong Voices online here.