As at March 2017 the number of young people aged 15 – 24 not engaged in education, employment or training in New Zealand was over 70,000, and in Auckland alone the number sat at well over 26,000. Many of them considered youth at risk.
The impact of disengagement from education and employment is immense. We know it impacts on increased alcohol and drug use, offending, antisocial behaviours.  It also has a financial impact as the cost for each of those young people is around $30,000.  So that is an annual cost to our country of $2.1 Billion and to Auckland over $780 million.

The Issue for our most at risk youth is not that they don’t want to do anything, nor a lack of ability,  but more a lack of the support they need to address the barriers that exist for them to education and employment.  While they may have aspirations, youth at risk have an added financial barrier to achieving in education at tertiary or trade training levels.  Yes there are free fees or scholarships, but there are a raft of other expenses and we know from talking with tertiary providers that these cost have become a major barrier  for students who do have good support – so imagine how hard it is for these young people.

That’s where YESS comes in.  

We work young people age 16 to 24 referred to the programme to determine their educational goals, employment aspirations, and what they have and need to achieve their goals.  Then we work with our partner employers, and provide pastoral care to support a young person into employment.

The earnings from their employment are split into two accounts. One is for them, and one is an education savings account.  When they enrol in their tertiary or trade training programme we match fund what they have saved. And we are working with our education partners to do the same – so $1000 of savings turns into $3000 of education.

We continue to support them throughout their employment and education pathway aiming at their independence but ensuring they have what they need to enable success.

In May 2017 YESS was accepted into and began a 6 month accelerator programme, the Akina Launchpad.  This has helped us fast track development and in November 2017 we kicked off our first phase pilot with 5 young people, two partner employers, a partner tertiary and trade training provider, banking partner, pastoral care partner, and financial literacy partner.   In early 2018 we will starting past 2 of our pilot and growing the number of young people and partners involved.

To find out more email us at 


Our YESS Working Group including:

  • Dom Leauga – Youth Connections, Auckland Council
  • Neil Brand – Youth Services West
  • Andrea Thumath – Unitec

The Working Group are focused on the development of a pilot to test and adapt a model that will meets the needs of young people in West Auckland.  They are specifically looking at:

  • A group of young people that will be part of a pilot and how best to support them.
  • Developing the right partnerships
  • How to best support businesses to employ at risk and vulnerable young people.
  • Testing and adapting the model to suit the communities needs.
  • Evaluation and measuring outcomes to build an evidence base.