You're not going to get anywhere if you say 'no' is one of the things Jazmine Kupenga (right) learnt from Youth Inspire. Here she is with Seipepa Hosie, manager of the seafood bar at PAK'nSAVE Petone.
The Youth Inspire programme has shown a Social Return on Investment (SROI) of $11.60 for every dollar invested. The programme, which has helped over 400 young people into employment since 2014, is also providing benefits to local businesses. The evaluation was completed by Hutt City Council and public policy consultants, Allen+Clarke. The evaluation quantified the social and economic value of Youth Inspire services and the level of benefit for each dollar invested. A range of economic, social, health and wellbeing benefits were gained, not only by service users, but also by whanau, the wider community and the businesses involved.
Businesses reported significant benefits including the fact the young people were work-ready, with the ongoing pastoral support ensuring young people remained connected to the work place, which contributed much to the success of the programme.
Carl Longstaff, the owner and director of the Metal Art Group, a light engineering, import and distribution company with 36 employees in Seaview, has now employed four graduates from Youth Inspire and says they have worked out well. “I currently have two employees through Youth Inspire – one has been here for one and a half years, the other for one year, and I am very happy with them. When they have been through Youth Inspire’s Licence to Work programme and a boot-camp regime, where they have to get up every morning at 6.30, they learn stuff like getting out of bed, responsibility and respect for their employers. Most don’t have parental support and Youth Inspire provides that for them, says Carl.
"After three to four months of earning money, some kids might go AWOL for a day or two – that can happen with any youth. We just call Youth Inspire and they will go and visit them, have a talk and make them accountable – they are a backstop like a parent would be. Usually that sorts out the problem - once they have a work ethic, they are fine," he says.
Youth Inspire was initiated by people in the Wainuiomata community, gained Hutt City Council support and is championed by Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace.
A range of stakeholders were involved in the evaluation which confirmed that education or financial support alone doesn’t generally make a measurable difference to employment outcomes, says Matt Reid, chair of Youth Inspire and Hutt City Council’s, General Manager City and Community Services. “Some of the young people who go through Youth Inspire have been on a benefit for some years. They may come from difficult situations and we have found a key aspect of the programme is support and mentoring - keeping them on the straight and narrow and providing role modelling and ongoing support.
"We reviewed international research on youth labour market programmes to establish the most consistently effective approaches. It was found that skill-based vocational training and apprenticeships with strong links to the local labour market have the most consistently successful results," says Mr Reid.
SROI is an internationally recognised form of cost-benefit analysis designed to capture the full value of programmes, services and facilities which have significant social, cultural or environmental benefits. Many of these benefits can be monetised, such as keeping people off benefits and socially engaged, as well as the improved physical and mental health outcomes that result from this.
The programme is funded by the Todd Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Social Development and Hutt City Council. The initiative is now supported by more than 200 local businesses which provide employment, training and other opportunities. It offers an employability skills programme and provides a wrap - around service to rangatahi up to the age of 24, which includes one-on-one mentoring, career pathway planning, a direct link to training and employment opportunities as well as in-work support to both the young person and the business.
After "years of being on a benefit", Jazmine Kupenga is now working at the seafood bar at PAK'nSAVE in Petone. "I’m really enjoying working here. It makes me feel good. I love learning new things, I like dealing with the customers, my boss is really nice and fair and I have more self-esteem now that I’m earning my own money," she says.
The 20-year-old left school aged 16 with NCEA levels 1 and 2 qualifications, but struggled to find permanent work in her hometown of New Plymouth. She even volunteered at an SPCA op shop. “I really liked it and would have stayed if I was paid but I wanted to get off a benefit. I would hang out with friends, which was fun, but it didn’t feel nice not having enough money to do anything,” she says.
Jazmine moved to Wellington at the beginning of this year for more opportunities and when WINZ suggested to a friend that she take part in Youth Inspire, Jazmine joined her.
"They kept me motivated by picking me up in Wainuiomata and taking me to the course which was in Naenae. They helped me get a bus card and a food grant and with getting quotes for WINZ for work-related clothing. I made friends and they helped me with soft skills like being more confident and with my CV and cover letters. When I came here for my interview, I knew how to answer questions appropriately. They are still helping me with my (drivers) licence."
"I love Youth Inspire. They are so nice to me and saw my potential and that I was trying. If I hadn’t been involved with Youth Inspire, I think I would still be on a benefit looking for jobs,” she says.
Jazmine has also found a second mother in her manager, Seipepa Hosie, who picked her up for early starts when she was training and took her to hospital when she injured herself at work. "She’s lovely – she’s beautiful and cheerful and has a really good attitude. I hope she goes far," Seipepa says.