Youth Employment Support Scheme 1

Three words to describe YESS? Connect, collaborate, empower.

The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) are connecting at risk youth in West Auckland with the support they need to gain employment, save money and access training options. They are a part of the Collective Impact Initiative, a collaborative network of parties tackling the social issues facing the people of West Auckland.

YESS is the brainchild of Janette Searle and Scott Samson. Janette is the entrepreneurial mastermind behind Take My Hands, a venture we saw through Akina’s first Launchpad. With an extensive background in film and TV production, she is now using her diverse skill set to confront social issues locally and abroad, utilising the power of focused collaboration to achieve a common goal. Scott is the Director of the Waitakere Alternative Education Consortium. He has a wealth of experience in working with our most at risk youth and was instrumental in creating the Managed Moves programme, which aims to remove or minimise the barriers to education that vulnerable young people experience.

The programme they have created is focused on the 16-24 year old age bracket that often fall through the cracks. YESS connects a young person with employment, supports them to maintain it, and enables them to go onto further education and training as they develop.  Once in a job and earning a wage, YESS places a portion of their earnings into a saving account, where it is then matched by a financial partner, and matched again (via a discount) from a tertiary/trade training provider – turning $1000 of savings into $3000 of education.

Whilst this might sound like orchestrated genius to most of us, to Janette, it’s just ‘looking at what systems were already in place and how best to leverage them’.

This model is based on the US based organisation, Juma. Juma creates employment pathways for low-income youth in North America, empowering them to “Earn, Learn, and Save”. They also practice ‘match-funding’, where a person is connected with a job and the contents of their savings account are “matched” by a funder, so their earnings double or triple through the process of the programme, and these funds are then used to pay for further training.

Janette is not shy in confessing that YESS was only an idea when she applied for Launchpad Work at the beginning of 2017- an idea she’d put thought into but no action. Since commencing Launchpad Work in May 2017, the team have accelerated to the point where they are about to launch their first pilot programme in October 2017. They’ve gone from idea to executing in just a few months, negotiating with some of New Zealand’s largest organisations (Countdown and McDonalds) to get this off the ground.

And the collaborations don’t stop there. The programme is working with Unitec to create a system of academic support while young people are still working. The plan is to set up a system of buddying and mentoring within the tertiary environment so that when youth are ready to do their diploma they’re already familiar with the tertiary environment. Their end goal is have the system supporting all at risk and vulnerable people in West Auckland, and the model replicated in other communities to support their young people into education.

And how has Launchpad Work helped with YESS’s journey? The Founders say there’s nothing like having someone you’re accountable to to make you do something. YESS found that the structure of Launchpad provided the motivation needed to get from concept to launch so quickly. Their mentors and venture manager shared knowledge that Janette was able to replicate, offering valuable support and encouragement along the way.

As corporates face the growing demands of social responsibility, YESS is giving businesses a chance to become active components of the community, creating pathways for youth to access training and employment. Launchpad Work is excited to travel alongside YESS as it takes off this October, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to utilise the powers of connection and collaboration in the future.