Youth Guarantee Network at Spotswood College

Spotswood College is taking a leadership role in the development of the Taranaki Youth Guarantee Network.  Principal Mark Bowden gives an introduction to the programme and Kim Leathem explains the Gateway programme.

Youth Guarantee is an innovative educational and training initiative to ensure young people in our region have access to foundational skills that enable them to move into further education, training and employment within Taranaki.

A number of schools are working closely with Jonathon Young (MP) and key local employers in engineering to create Taranaki as a centre of excellence for engineering particularly the dairying, oil and gas industries.

Spotswood College has been reviewing their curriculum to ensure all students have learning pathways that link “learning with earning”.

The vision is to work with other schools to build really effective partnerships between schools, employers, tertiary providers, iwi and the wider community so that we have a collaborative and community approach to employment opportunities for young people.

Recently, the chair of the Mayor’s task force for jobs, Dale Williams of Otorohonga District Council, quoted demographic research that showed that within 9 years half of Taranaki’s population is going to be 60+.  This means that we must work hard to ensure all young people are well trained to take over from retiring workers.

Major challenges exist within the employment scene in Taranaki.  This situation will lead to some wonderful employment opportunities for our young people, there are going to be some great jobs for school leavers in the future.

The Taranaki Youth Guarantee Network seeks to build a community approach so that students are exposed to a range of meaningful vocational opportunities;  we want to keep our young people in Taranaki.  We don’t just want to send them away.

Research across the country says that 70% of students do not go to university. Of the 30% who go to university from school – only half of them complete their first degree in the first 5 years.  The message to all schools is that we need to do better to meet the needs of the 70%.

The work with Jonathon Young and key employers is to ensure that the new approach becomes a reality. Jonathon’s input has been instrumental and the Taranaki School Principals are working hard to co-ordinate a leadership model which links Secondary Schools with Tertiary providers with iwi with employers.  It is exciting, innovative and wonderful for our young people.

Getting local employers on board is essential.  The initiative is in the development stage, but a comprehensive strategic plan has been written and partnerships with business and tertiary providers formed.

We think Youth Guarantee is a really exciting concept and that it is the future of education as NZ, and particularly Taranaki, seek to up-skill the work-force and provide vision for our young people that great jobs exist in Taranaki.


Work Experience has been a long established pathway for students to transition to work.

The Gateway programme was established in 2001 at Spotswood College averaging over 75 students each year attending workplaces in our community.

Some of the popular industries involved are Building, Automotive, Childcare, Animal Care, Computing, Hospitality, Retail, Hairdressing, Accounting, Boat, Building, Plumbing, Sport & Rec, Engineering, Music, Horticulture, Travel & Tourism, Agriculture, Real Estate, Business Admin and Health.

Students usually attend workplaces one day a week and work on industry based units whilst at school.  Some students gain apprenticeships, some gain part-time employment or secure places in tertiary study and some decide to return to school.

Beverley McLean and Kim Leathem work together to provide the best opportunities for the students.

In 2014 Gateway students will be selected from their Vocational Pathways option when they are considered ready for workplaces.  Vocational Pathways will enable students to see how their learning is relevant for a wide range of jobs and study options in the five sectors of industry.

Mechancially minded : Josh Snowden, at Tasman Toyota learning with the "hands on" learning through the Gateway Programme. Photo : Sharyn Smart
Mechancially minded : Josh Snowden, at Tasman Toyota learning with the “hands on” learning through the Gateway Programme.
Photo : Sharyn Smart

Josh Snowden is an excellent example of how a student can achieve success taking advantage of the opportunities on offer within the programme.

Josh attends the Automotive Trade Academy at WITT once a week as well as his Gateway placement at Tasman Toyota – Westown.  He has also achieved a number of credits through attending the following courses from outside providers funded by STAR : Meditrain First Aid, MIG Welding, Forklift Operator, Height Safety and Hazard ID and Job Safety Analysis.

Josh said the best part about his Gateway placement is that he enjoys the manual style of learning.  “I learn better hands on,” he said.

He likes the variety of work that his placement at Tasman Toyota offers.

“I get better knowledge of mechanical and electrical side of things on different vehicles.”

As a year 13 in 2014 Josh will be part of the Automotive trade pathway taking vocational pathways, metal, food for flatters and horticulture as his subjects.

Tasman Toyota workshop foreman Gary Harrison is impressed with Josh’s attitude and work ethics and enjoys encouraging students in their chosen trade.

“Tasman Toyota is very proactive in encouraging young people through apprenticeships and providing work experience,” he said.

Enrolments for 2014

Enrolment for 2014 is underway.  If you haven’t been able to arrange an interview time through your primary or intermediate school please contact the office to make an appointment.

 International Focus

In response to last month’s article on Spotswood College’s International Focus if you are interested in hosting an International Student and would like to learn more about the International Programme at Spotswood College please contact the International Department – 7512416 Ext 747 and speak with Gloria or Janet.

This article was published in the Oakura Take One Moment (TOM) in October 2013.

Leave a Comment