Steering students towards jobs
Matamata students may benefit from a move to introduce compulsory driver licensing in secondary schools around New Zealand.
Matamata-Piako District Council and businesses are supporting the initiative which was put forward at the Local Government New Zealand AGM.
It was passed with 79 per cent of votes from council representatives.
Rotorua Lakes Council put forward the idea and asked LGNZ to lobby government to support a free and all-inclusive universal driver licence programme for all students at NCEA level two.
The councils said it was diffi- cult for young people to find employment without a driver licence.
In was particularly difficult in smaller towns, rural areas and places of high deprivation, further prompting the need for such a programme.
Matamata-Piako mayor Jan Barnes is keen to see the initiative become reality.
It comes after months of lobbying from the Mayoral Task Force for Jobs, of which Barnes is a member.
In 2016 the forum launched Steering Aotearoa (driver licensing) initiative in partnership with Massey University and Connecting for Youth Employment – Central Hawke’s Bay (CYE).
The pilot programme was run within Central Hawke’s Bay College in Waipukurau and included 20, 16-year-old students, with a successful outcome.
A research report recommended that driver training programmes be retained, and expanded, to provide opportunities for all students to secure their full driver licence before they leave high school and as a result was added as a remit at LGNZ.
‘‘I have put all my effort into this,’’ said Barnes.
‘‘We are disadvantaging our rural, provincial youth. If we give them one thing, it is a learner licence or maybe more.
‘‘It’s to give our young people confidence.
‘‘If they get this learner licence, wow, they have already got confidence.
‘‘And then we start to build on that, and why not inside our colleges, that’s where it should happen.’’
Matamata College Gateway coordinator Kym Bolton-Hampton says there is already a driver licensing course at the college on an as-needed basis.
Students who want to be involved can put their name forward.
Bolton-Hampton says the college put about 20 students through the partially funded programme, with a 90 per cent pass rate.