Businesses step up to mentor youth

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Remember being asked when you were young “What do you want to do with your life”?

To help with this sometimes tricky decision, 40 Year 12 students at Fraser High School and 40 Year 13 students at Fairfield College will get the opportunity to be paired with a career mentor for a seven-month period as part of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Waikato Career Navigator programme.

Industry representatives will also share their experiences as guest speakers in a series of work readiness workshops delivered to 350 senior students across both schools.

More than 30 businesspeople including business owners, HR, health and IT professionals, engineers and directors from businesses including Fonterra, Waikato DHB, Genesis Energy and Datacom attended the recent Graeme Dingle Foundation Waikato Career mentor training.

Angus Rush, general business manager for McDonalds Waikato remembers finding school hard; he attributes his personal success to the kindness of a few mentors that took the time to take him aside and help him grow and develop. “It was the people around me who believed in me that contributed to my success which is why I am here. We are a massive employer of youth so I think it is important to spend time with kids and help them understand what is out there for them.”

Coming from a tough area and going to a school with limited resources, David McCormack, cardiac surgeon at Waikato DHB, also feels fortunate to have had mentors and members of staff that were a positive influence and inspired him to succeed. He is keen to give back to society and help children from the next generation realise their potential.

Career Navigator is tailored to each school and includes three parts – career mentoring, participation in experiential workshops and attendance at career options events. “This programme aims to tackle Waikato’s poor NEET statistics by supporting teens in their decision-making while still at school and also providing an effective platform for local employers to share real-world knowledge”, says Vikki Blundell, Graeme Dingle Foundation Waikato regional manager.

One of the strengths of the mentoring programme is that it opens up opportunities for students who may not otherwise have that, says Michelle Daly, Career Navigator coordinator.

Eileen Hawkins from Genesis Energy knows how teenage years can be emotional and confusing which make it difficult to decide on the direction to take. “I think if I had been given a bit more direction when I was younger I would have found it easier and so I am really prepared to give my time to help and encourage others.”

Clare Cottle, Perry Group, thinks it is really tough when you are young to know what you want to do when you leave school. For this reason she wants to give back and support our youth to become more confident about their future potential.

Career Navigator is funded via grants and sponsorship from the Waikato community. The Graeme Dingle Foundation Waikato needs to hold events such as Drop Your Boss, on April 8, to cover the remainder of our costs.

If you or someone you know is brave enough to abseil down the side of a building – and they definitely don’t have to be a boss – then take a look at our website (http://www.dinglefoundation.org.nz/waikato/news-events/DYBWaikato) or call Cindy on 0274 433 905.

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