We spoke to the team at Te Hā o Mātauranga – Learning in Kaikōura about ways to increase diversity, cultural connection and how to work towards a more equitable playing field for all rangatahi to flourish and grow.
The importance of a cultural identity and self-worth
- Rangatahi need to know who they are and where they come from. When they have a better understanding of their own history, they can make more sense of the impact of colonisation on their lives, especially in relation to access to resources and opportunities. By reconnecting them with where they come from and to their marae (which they may have become disconnected from), they discover themselves and their cultural history and values, and this helps them build self-worth. By understanding why, they are where they are, they can stop wasting energy blaming themselves or their families and start putting more energy into being drivers of their own learning and their own journeys.
- Programmes for rangatahi that help them understand their individual, whānau and cultural worth helps them recognise and appreciate the knowledge and skills they have. This gives them the confidence to pick up the phone or send an email to ask for a job. This is a major step in achieving equal opportunities for all our rangatahi.
- Many of our rangatahi feel jaded by life experiences and the negative put downs by others, sometimes even family. This erodes their feelings of self-worth and value, making it difficult for them to believe they are good enough for higher paid jobs. Focusing on finding the strengths of our rangatahi and building on them helps to increase their self-worth and confidence, which allows them to look for opportunities that are open to all.
- In many regions, our rangatahi still need to push past multi-generational discrimination that has excluded them from the workplace. When parents, siblings or even grandparents don’t see or believe in your abilities, it’s hard to see them in yourself. By supporting rangatahi build a stronger voice and positive mindsets, helping them to set goals and create bigger aspirations and being there to support them when life knocks them around, we help them to build trust and feel more positive and hopeful about their futures.
- Create experiences for rangatahi that take them out of the grind of their everyday lives.
- YEP has this philosophy embedded throughout the different modules, which are always asking, ‘What do you want?’ Many rangatahi don’t know what they want to do, and our job is to help them find a start point. Many don’t want menial jobs or entry-level jobs, but that is how they get a foot in the door. It’s not one job for life anymore; it’s about building up skills and providing them with life skills to grow so that in the future more opportunities are open to them.
Future Focused opportunities to bridge the gap
- To deliver a more equitable and diverse workplace it comes down to respect. Employers need to invest in our rangatahi and take the time to train them and see this as an investment, which in turn may provide them a long-term employee.
- Having the likes of Te Hā o Mātauranga – Learning in Kaikōura alongside rangatahi placement ensures we can support the mechanisms of youth employability, assist with disciplinary meetings and conversations, provide advice on contracts and pastoral care and bring how they work onto a more equitable and fairer platform.
- We are always seeking to engage and provide equal opportunities, but the reality is that there is more available in bigger towns and not everyone wants to travel to Kaikōura. When you have a minimum of 10 to run a course, we try and subsidise the opportunities to make them as accessible as possible, including providing the venue and kai and doing a lot of the running around. Technology is therefore a huge opportunity to provide equitable access to all rangatahi. We need to understand how to capitalise on this and ensure location isn’t a barrier to entry for training, upskilling and more.
Increasing the diversity of leaders in every sector at every level
- Organisations need to create the space for younger people to step up within businesses, and this happens when others step down. This will be how we grow internal skill sets and show opportunities within the workforce to those future leaders coming through.
- The growth of Māori businesses within the New Zealand economy will see the less diverse businesses fall to the wayside, and those with adaptable skills will take on the challenge and become diverse leaders.
- We have a conscious strategy with all rangatahi we work with. We provide them space to lead so they learn about leadership, nurture it and know they can do it. This stems from our first observation of strengthening their identities and having comfort of their own culture, being able to talk about their own experiences and having the confidence to stand up and have a voice.