Employability skills focus of roadshow

Time for action. . . YouthEmployability Aotearoa (YEA) national co-ordinator Shirley Johnson and Closing the Gaps co-ordinator Mark McCann get ready to chat to employers about how they can help school pupils develop skills to help them gain work. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Helping young people develop skills for a changing labour market was the topic discussed in Gore last month.

Youth Employability Aotearoa (YEA) national coordinator Shirley Johnson, visited Gore as part of the group’s national roadshow.

Ms Johnson met Gore High School and Menzies College pupils to discuss the skills they would need.

The impact of globalisation, weather events, an ageing and increasing population and knowledge explosion had led to phenomenal changes across the planet which were challenging people’s lifestyles, Ms Johnson said.

‘‘To cope with these runaway changes, we need to prepare our workforce with the skills to handle this digital era.’’

Young people needed employability skills which wove together interpersonal and teamwork skills, life skills, resilience and the ability to think creatively and critically, she said.

The purpose of the roadshow was to get out into the regions to raise awareness about the importance of employability skills.

The education system had not been able to keep pace with these changes.

About 80% of employers reported skill gaps.

Aiming to learn employability skills was a change in approach from pupils filling themselves up with knowledge to building self-awareness and skills that would be marketable.

‘‘Lifelong employability requires a shift in mindset from thinking that learning is done and dusted once you leave school, to being aware that the only way to stay employable is to consciously seek out new learning.’’

Mrs Johnson also talked to employers.

Her constant message on behalf of YEA was that the government could not solve the youth employability challenge alone.

‘‘Long-term success requires collaborative cross-sector effort across communities.

‘‘Business needs to be talking to schools about what they need and be part of supporting young people build these skills.’’

It was important to take action because otherwise immigration would be the only way to fill the gap, while young people would not have work, Ms Johnson said.