Thursday, June 13, 2024

New pathway programmes to target youth offending spike

The Government has today announced the rollout of new programmes targeting spikes in youth offending.

Associate Minister of Social Development and Employment, Willie Jackson said the initiatives would help to steer rangatahi into training and employment and away from offending.

Whakawatea te ara Poutama involves 15 work-readiness and employment training programmes in those areas which have seen the biggest increases in youth crime and ram raids: south and west Auckland, Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

“While youth crime is down on a decade ago, there has been a spike in youth offending we need to address,” Mr Jackson said.

“Helping our young people into training and work is one of the best things we can do to steer them away from crime. For some, this will require a range of supports to help them take a different direction.”

The programmes announced today are part of the Government’s ‘Better Pathways’ package.

The Whakawātea te ara Poutama programme is focused on supporting young people aged 15-24 who face barriers to getting into work like low or no qualifications, health issues and or whānau responsibilities, and who have extra barriers because of potential links to criminal activity and or gang affiliations.

“These are specific and targeted programmes co-designed with locally based providers who are well connected to their communities and know the challenges faced by rangatahi,” the Minister said.

“We’re looking to take rangatahi through a journey that grows them as individuals, whether that be reconnecting with whakapapa, supporting them to deal with the issues they are facing while equipping them with skills, training, and confidence to identify and set career aspirations.

“It’s also about giving ongoing support to overcome challenges rangatahi can face like peer pressure to take part in anti-social or criminal activity and supporting them through future challenges that may arise as they progress along their employment pathway.”

Minister Jackson said some rangatahi involved in crime or associated with gangs have never had an opportunity to get on a training course or be in a position to apply for a job.

“We can’t forget them. They deserve to have the support to deal with the issues they face, to give them a better chance at life and at getting a job which will allow them to support themselves and their whānau.”

“It also helps to make our communities safer so it’s good for everyone.  These programmes will nurture rangatahi to find their character-building strengths and choose another pathway, away from crime, allowing them to contribute to their whānau and community,” he said.

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