Celebrating Twenty years of Instep


Priority One’s Instep programme supports our community’s pipeline of future talent by fostering a partnership between local business and schools. It recognises that for Tauranga Moana to have a sustainable supply of the talent local businesses need to invest in our young people. They need to inspire them about future training about future training and career opportunities available locally, as well as helping them develop the work ready skills needed to thrive in a world of change.

2023 marks Instep’s 20-year anniversary – a significant milestone for a programme that has become an integral part of Priority One’s goal to lift the prosperity and future prospects of local people.

The Instep programme had its beginnings in the early 2000s when a member of the business community called out schools for not delivering students with the skills employers needed. This prompted a conversation between a local secondary school principal and the business owner, which resulted in economic development agency Priority One establishing a two-year Industry and Schools Training and Enterprise Partnership (Instep), with funding support from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise. In the early years, Instep focused on building cooperation between schools and with the local business community so each better understood the other’s needs; as well as helping organise opportunities for students to engage with local businesses.

Twenty years later Priority One’s Instep programme has evolved and continually innovates to respond to the changing needs of local businesses and the education sector. Today, Tauranga Moana has a growing youth population, especially rangatahi Māori.

“It’s our young people who hold the key to our region’s success – they’re the solution for our businesses’ ongoing labour challenges,” says Priority One Instep Manager Vee de Koster.

“Priority One’s Instep programme continues to provide a bridge between education and employment by supporting students to develop their leadership skills, encouraging collaboration between schools, businesses and our community so local principals and teachers are supported in their ability to contextualise the curriculum; and to ensure our young people have opportunities to gain the work-ready skills employers are looking for. In this regard, our flagship yia! (young innovators accelerator) programme helps fuel future entrepreneurs and work-ready skills by challenging students to develop and apply key skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. In this way we are helping create a highly skilled future talent pool for our growing business community,” Says Vee.

But the best endorsement of Instep’s success comes from those it aims to serve – our students and businesses: “The Instep programme has opened my eyes to the wealth of opportunities, the different businesses and the knowledgeable people that exist right here in Tauranga. It has given me the skills to adapt to the workforce. What excites me the most is the opportunity to go onto tertiary study that could ultimately lead to a role that hasn’t been created yet and could be based right here in Tauranga.” Lily Pearce, Instep Young Leader (2022), Tauranga Girls’ College.

“For us, Instep, and initiatives like yia! help provide the pipeline of talent that will fuel our team in the future. Innovation runs through every part of our business, from engineering, design, and marketing to business and operations. So, teaching today’s youth the skills of innovation, design thinking and collaboration, impacts us hugely.” Jono Jones, CEO, Bluelab.

For the latest news on the Instep Programme, check out the Instep Informer, here: Instep Informer | Term 1, 2023

For more information on the Priority One Instep Programme, or for enquires on how you can be apart of it, contact our Instep Manager, Vee de Koster: vee@priorityone.co.nz