Youthtown takes the lead: Expanding and Enhancing the Youth Employability Programme

Posted on 05 July 2023

Youthtown was proud to take on the national management and delivery of the Youth Employability Programme (YEP) in February. After working with Te Hononga Akoranga COMET throughout 2022 to ensure a seamless handover of the YEP, the first few months of this year have seen the continued development of the programme.

The skills that YEP delivers to rangatahi are incredibly valuable, and the ethos of the programme aligns closely with Youthtown’s values. Over recent years, the issues of employability and future pathways have been increasingly important to young people, and we know YEP offers a solution to helping rangatahi build employability skills and gain purposeful employment.

Drawing on the comprehensive framework that COMET had put in place, Youthtown has been developing relationships with the network of organisations across the country that deliver YEP.  We recently held our first Community of Practice with representatives from these partner organisations. Collectively, we shared our thoughts on what the youth employability landscape may look like over the next few years. 


A strong theme of concern emerged about the longer-term impact of the COVID lockdowns on our rangatahi. Low school attendance will affect their ability to move into higher-skilled jobs. It affects their resilience and ability to navigate the labour market in an increasingly complex world; not least as the impacts of AI are beginning to be felt and we move through a challenging economic environment.

This first Community of Practice also enabled us to discuss the further development of the programme and how we can build on the strong foundations that COMET has created. One of the areas being reviewed is programme resources, with the aim of developing a wider kete of resources for delivery sites to use. This will enable sites to tailor their delivery more closely to their cohort, whilst maintaining the integrity and high standards of the programme. We are looking forward to our national hui on the 13th of September, which will enable us to explore further developments as a community.

We have been fortunate that Shirley Johnson has continued in her role as training provider. Year to date, there have been five facilitator training sessions completed, as well as an advanced facilitator training. These training sessions provide attendees with the knowledge and skills required to deliver the programme, as well as an opportunity to build their understanding and connections in their region.

Several sites in the Auckland region have been unable to deliver YEP at the start of this year, mainly due to staffing and timetable constraints. We are continuing to explore how we can deliver YEP to these sites in the future. We are also working with several South Auckland schools on a pilot of an exciting new programme that utilises the seven employability skills, which is targeted at young people who are looking to set up their own businesses or become owner-operators.


From the beginning, YEP was built around the values, knowledge and competencies required for not only landing a job but also as a springboard to support growth and development throughout a career. These foundational skills remain as relevant today as when the programme was first developed. Our challenge is to keep evolving to ensure we can effectively engage rangatahi in the programme and to work together advocating for the resources required to awhi our rangatahi through this journey.

Ngā mihi,

Chris Davidson
Manager – Youth Employability