Giving youth a stepping stone into work

24 July 2020

Rosie Lavea says she is a people person and after spending 30 seconds with her, it’s clear that this is true.

20-year-old Rosie Lavea sitting with a smile at Wellington City Council’s head office reception, where she is doing work experience.

Rosie Lavea at Wellington City Council’s head office reception.

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From Miramar, the 20-year-old with her friendly smile has been meeting and greeting people at the Wellington City Council’s head office reception for the past few weeks.

Rosie is the 100th cadet to take part in He Ara Whai Mahi - Pathways to Employment (P2E), a programme which provides valuable work experience and skills to young adults on jobseeker support.

Piloted in 2016, the programme is a partnership between the Council and the Ministry of Social Development and gives young adults aged 18-24 the chance to work for four weeks in a professional working environment.

“It’s been really good – I’ve learnt a lot,” Rosie says. “It’s been great getting to meet members of the public and Council staff, learning what’s going on around Wellington and getting an insight into what the Council does.”

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Rosie has been helping to manage bookings for the 10 public meeting rooms located at Council’s head office on The Terrace. She also keeps an eye on emails and provides security access cards and lockers to Council staff who work in the building.

Passionate about customer service, Rosie says she aims to be cheerful with everyone who comes to Council’s reception and to be as efficient as possible so the people she’s assisting can get on with their day.

She has been mentored by Council receptionist Kevin Ward, who says the former Wellington East Girls College student was a fast learner and very capable.

“Rosie had three weeks here before lockdown, and after that break she was straight back into it and hadn’t forgotten anything,” Kevin says. “I can go away from the reception desk and be confident that she knows what she’s doing. It’s really good to be able to help someone, and she’s been a privilege to work with.”

To date, P2E has had a 100 per cent completion rate, with cadets having worked across 30 different Business Units within Council. During 2019, the programme gave 33 cadets experience in the workplace and of these, 10 have continued working at Council and 21 have been employed elsewhere.

Work experience intern Rosie Lavea sitting at the Wellington City Council’s head office reception desk.

P2E Project Lead Gary Haddon says with reception being “the face of Council”, Rosie and her positive persona had been a perfect fit. Most cadets are school leavers and university graduates who haven’t found work because they don’t have the required experience. 

Gary says through P2E, cadets can build up their CVs with skills and references and get an insight into potential career paths to pursue. Most importantly, they walk away from the programme with more confidence.

“Some people who come through the programme don’t have much confidence because they’ve been knocked back so many times while looking for work. Everyone knows someone who’s finding it hard to get into employment. As a Council, this is a way we can support young people within the community.”

Chief People And Culture Officer Meredith Blackler says the programme is beneficial to the cadets and brings a fresh perspective to Council.

“We are proud to support P2E, particularly given our strong commitment to inclusion. We’re playing our part in helping our young people into employment.”

Council’s next P2E intakes will be in August and September. Young adults aged 18-24 who are on jobseeker support can talk to their Work and Income case manager if they are interested in becoming a cadet.