Instep Programme connects youth to careers

Photo Supplied. Youth Leaders at Canvas Careers Expo.

A major reason young people often struggle to secure their first job is a lack of experience or qualifications. Limited awareness of available job opportunities also restricts their prospects, as they are often only exposed to what is immediately around them or what is presented to them through family, friends and school career advisors.

Priority One’s Instep Programme is tailored for secondary school students in the Western Bay of Plenty. It's all about fostering relationships, collaboration, leadership development, creative and critical thinking, while connecting students with local businesses.

As many graduates have experienced, participating with Instep serves as a direct gateway to local industries, showcasing opportunities, inspiring ambition, providing information, and encouraging youth to explore the options available. According to Instep Manager Vee de Koster, the programme is designed to provide students with industry connections, leadership opportunities, information about career options, and support with the meaningful pathways available to build their careers in the region.

“Local students are our future workforce, and unfortunately, they aren’t always aware of the endless opportunities in Tauranga Moana, which is where we can support them.”

Instep leverages Priority One’s business network connections to support its programme through initiatives like the Young Leaders’ Forum, yia!, and Canvas Careers Expo. These components help youth grow, build valuable business networks, and develop essential soft skills for the workforce. The Instep programme provides hands-on experience and valuable insights to shape career pathways. By participating, local students receive the space and support to understand themselves and what’s available to them.

Local Tauranga Girls’ College Alumni Lily Pearce is a testament to the success of the Instep Young Leaders’ Forum. In 2022 she seized every opportunity the programme offered, and it has instilled in her a great sense of confidence for life beyond secondary school.

Students like Lily learn about potential career pathway options and what vocational or university training may be needed to achieve them.

“Instep has opened my eyes to the wealth of opportunities, the different businesses and the knowledgeable people that exist right here in Tauranga,” says Pearce, “What excites me the most is the opportunity to go onto a tertiary study that could ultimately lead to a role that hasn’t been created yet and could be based right here in Tauranga.”

De Koster says, “The students can also assist our local businesses in identifying what roles may be required in the future and what benefits a graduate or intern role could bring for both the youth and businesses.”

Local funder TECT supports the Instep Programme through a multi-year grant to Priority One. Instep accounts for part of the $200,000 per annum Priority One receives for its work to bridge the gap between business and education.

TECT Trustee Kate Barry-Piceno says TECT are part of the fabric of this region and is ambitious for the community's future.

“Instep has been successfully supporting our local youth into better futures for 21 years, and we are proud to support such a programme, which not only supports our young people and the future workforce of the region but also utilises collaboration with local companies and industries to help everyone involved, thrive.”

History of Instep Programme

Past Principal of Otumoetai College, David Randell, noticed a disconnect between internships and pathways for his students. After speaking with Priority One about ways to solve this issue, he gained support from fellow secondary schools principals and in 2003 the Instep Programme was born. Today the Instep programme works with all eleven secondary schools in Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

Photo Supplied. Instep Young Leaders 2024 Cohort.

Photo Supplied. Papamoa College at Zespri.


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