Licence to Work - media release

Licence to Work - media release



14 September 2016


Licence to Work initiative doubles in size for year 2

300 high school students across Auckland now gaining skills to become employers’ first choice

Over 300 high school students across nine Auckland schools are learning exactly what it takes to land and retain a job in the workforce with COMET Auckland’s Licence to Work initiative.

The programme helps students from all walks of life to learn employability skills such as attitude, work ethic and resilience, enabling them to be ready for work.

Following a successful pilot last year, the programme has doubled in size from four to nine Auckland schools, and is currently trialing in three Taranaki schools with a wider roll-out to occur in 2017.

The students are on their way to completing the required 80 hours with an employer and 20 hours of community service to be presented with their formal Licence to Work certificate in October.

COMET Auckland’s Project Manager, Shirley Johnson, says the number of youth in New Zealand not in education or training (NEETS) is an issue that needs urgent attention.

“Early stints of unemployment can lead to long-term unemployment and benefit dependency. It is essential that we support our young people into employment with practical, work-focused programmes like the Licence to Work initiative,” she says.

Johnson cites a recent parliamentary NZ question time session last month, when Green party politician Gareth Hughes said 88,000 New Zealand youth come under the Not in Education or Training (NEET) category, 27,000 of whom are in Auckland.

“This is why COMET Auckland has developed the Licence to Work, to ensure that young people are leaving school workforce-ready.

“Just like the skills required when obtaining a licence to drive, the students on the programme are being equipped with the competencies that employers have identified as being critical to securing and retaining employment,” Johnson says.

A great example of the programme is Papatoetoe High School student Valu Rogers. Valu is currently completing his work placement at Sky City Grand, where he is training as a porter.

Valu says: “I really enjoy working in the high-paced environment at Sky City Grand, which is something I never thought I’d get the chance to do. They’ve taught me a lot about communicating with customers in a friendly manner.

“When I graduate with my Licence to Work I want to study business or hotel management while working at Sky City Grand,” Valu says.

Sky City Grand’s Chief Concierge Jeremy Wilson says it is important for young people to learn that good grades are not the only key ingredient to succeeding in the workforce.

“Valu is a hard-working kid who shows a lot of integrity. His can-do attitude and willingness to learn has really aided his success here at Sky City Grand Hotel,”

“As a result of the Licence to Work programme I have decided to offer him a casual contract following his graduation from the programme,” Jeremy says.

Green Bay High School student, Nicolette Du Preez, is another example of a student exploring life in the workforce through the Licence to Work.


Her experience at The Auckland City Hospital sees her working alongside elective surgical bookers preparing paperwork for upcoming operations and updating the Hospital’s databases.

Leevonia Meredith from the Auckland City Hospital says the Licence to Work is key to gaining an authentic workforce experience.

“The programme is a great opportunity for high school students to learn from their mistakes with patience, flexibility and a willingness to learn. These are competencies that employers value and look for in potential employees,” she says.

Employers such as Waste Management and Stamford Plaza have also joined the programme to provide these students with practical industry experience.

Johnson says if every employer in Auckland were to take on one young person currently NEET, the issue would no longer exist.

The Licence to Work initiative plans to go national next year in hopes to reduce the figures of youth NEET, New Zealand-wide.


For more information on the Licence to work, please contact




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