In May 2016 MTFJ, Massey University and Connecting for Youth Employment partnered to launch the Steering Aotearoa initiative in Central Hawkes Bay.
MTFJ had identified that one of the biggest barriers to employment for young people was the lack of a driver’s licence. The barriers are particularly acute in rural & provincial communities and those with high deprivation. Youth may lack access to a car, be unable to afford lessons or travel to a testing centre.
The initiative aimed to respond to demonstrate a way to overcome these barriers by providing youth the opportunity to gain their license while at school. The pilot was overseen by Massey Universities Dr Peter Rawlins, and was made possible by the efforts of Connecting for Youth Employment's Kelly Annand.
As a result of the pilot 20 kids from diverse backgrounds are well on their way to having their full licences. The research report recommended that driver training programmes be retained, and expanded, to provide opportunities for all students to secure their full driving licence before they leave high school.
Drawing on the research, Mayor Steve Chadwick of Rotorua moved a remit at the 2017 LGNZ AGM that the membership of LGNZ advocate with them for the implementation of a universal, free & all accessible drivers licensing programme in New Zealand schools.
This remit was passed with overwhelming support.
The full report can be read here.
Following on from the 2017 LGNZ remit, MTFJ began meeting with various government departments to discuss Steering Aotearoa.
Prior to the 2017 General Election, Labour and NZ First recognised the importance of driver training for young people. Labour went as far as to include this as part of the "School Leavers Toolkit.
Following the general election MTFJ have been working closely with various ministries on their approach to a driver licensing programme.
Ensuring a successful programme is delivered that works for young New Zealanders is the number one priority of MTFJ. We are determined to see the knowledge and experience of local driver programmes and their staff captured and utilised.
We will be sharing updates with our members as soon as we can - stay tuned to find out more.