Harnessing the young is the best investment yet

Jami-Lee Ross – 

Our youth are our future. They are the driving force of the next generation.

It is our children who will be stepping up to take up the reigns in years to come, to keep our country thriving.

It is essential therefore that we prepare them as best as possible to give them the greatest chance of success. Each generation has more opportunities in different fields of work as well as greater freedom to travel and explore.

We must harness the wide-ranging talents, skills and abilities that benefit them as individuals, as well as members of families, communities, and the workforce.

Developing talent

We want to bring out the best in young people, through whichever means they show promise; be it academia, politics, trade, sport, culture, the arts or any other interest they may have.

The skills and talent they develop during their youth will enhance their lives in the long term. They will also bring valuable contribution to their local communities and the economy.

We are fortunate to live in a richly diverse and multi-cultural country.

We want to encourage our youth to engage in social, economic and political issues that reflect and represent the wider population. Their experiences, insights and ideas are invaluable. It is up to us to support this initiative.

Youth Parliament

Youth Parliament is a great opportunity for young New Zealanders to learn first-hand about New Zealand’s democracy.

It provides young people with a platform to discuss current affairs, and learn to debate on a wide range of issues. Youth Members of Parliament are able to learn about the process and development of a mock bill, as well as take part in mock caucus sessions and select committees.

We hope that by inviting young people to experience the inner workings of Parliament that they feel inspired and encouraged to strive to achieve their aspirations.

Local youth councils are a good opportunity for young people to get involved in local governance and decision making. This is a great way for them to affect change in their communities as representatives of younger local population.

They bring new energy and a fresh perspective on how best to address local issues. This is an excellent way to support and encourage the political engagement of younger generations.

Helping the disadvantaged

Whilst it is important to offer support to young people who are interested and willing to engage in political issues, we must also endeavour to reach those who are disadvantaged by their socio-economic circumstances.

Prevention and early intervention are key components to keeping our youth on track with positive social engagement which is why it is important to invest in programmes that aim to address complex issues faced by many young people.

The Government invests in youth development opportunities which are available to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Minister of Youth Nikki Kaye, announced a $1.5m package for youth mentoring.

This funding will be invested to deliver one-on-one and group-based mentoring for at-risk youths. The aim is to help develop positive social connections, self-confidence and awareness of their potential. This hopes to increase their engagement at school, and active, positive participation in their communities.

As a result of increased resources to support education and youth engagement, we are seeing more young people attending Early Childhood Education (96.6%) through to completing NCEA Level 2 (83.3 per cent).

We are seeing record numbers of undergraduate degree qualifications and the number of apprenticeships is being increased by 14,000 over five years.

Around 30,000 more young people are going into work or training from education each year and 28,000 fewer young people are requiring assistance through ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ (NEET).

We have high hopes for our next generation and young New Zealanders are going from strength to strength.

Through education, training and social development we will continue to help them flourish and grow.

Jami-Lee Ross has been an elected Member of Parliament from Botany Constituency in East Auckland since March 2011. He is also Junior Government Whip in Parliament.

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