Nurturing tomorrow’s talent: Mentors inspire students for the Future of Work

It is imperative for a region to actively engage in bridging the gap for young people and the business sector, as this serves as a keystone for sustainable socio-economic growth. By facilitating access to a diverse range of career activities, Priority One’s Instep programme empowers youth to contribute effectively to the local workforce. Doing so not only ensures the cultivation of a skilled and innovative labour force but also supports the region’s well-being. The investment in the professional development of young individuals not only augments their personal growth but also positions the region as a forward-thinking community. Ultimately, by providing these opportunities, our region is nurturing its future leaders, entrepreneurs, and contributors, to the Future of Work.

On February 14th, our Vocational Coordinator Darlene Sayers held an enriching speaker event at Te Puke High School, featuring three individuals with different career journeys: Tiare Dickson, a self-employed Moko Artist; Kashala Bax, a Project Manager for the Odlum Group – a civil engineering company; and Michelle Clarke, an Employment Mentor for Priority One’s Ara Rau. It was a transformative experience aiming to instil the understanding that every life experience can be leveraged as an asset.

Each speaker shared, in varied ways, the importance of recognising one’s cultural identity as a unique strength and using this individuality to inform their future endeavours.

Tiare delivered a powerful message encouraging students to take that crucial first step in their journeys. He emphasised the transformative power of initiating action, actively listening, embracing personal growth, and maintaining a curious mindset in everything they do. Tiare’s words echoed the sentiment that every moment, no matter how small, is a building block for a meaningful and purposeful life.

Michelle took the opportunity to highlight, what she expressed as the superpower inherent when embracing Te Reo Māori. She urged students to believe in themselves and draw strength from their cultural identity, stressing that culture is a foundation for personal and professional success. Michelle shared insights about her path of self-discovery and empowerment through a deep connection to her heritage.

Kashala described her journey working in a male-dominated field and overcoming those barriers. Her story underscored the virtues of resilience, perseverance, and authenticity. By staying true to oneself, she demonstrated how societal perceptions and expectations can be transcended, opening avenues for personal and professional growth.

These encouraging narratives left an indelible mark on the students, encouraging them to push and pursue their passions, embrace their cultural identity, and break down any societal barriers that may be present along the way.

The event served as a beacon, guiding students towards a future where every experience, challenge, and triumph becomes an asset in shaping their personal and professional paths. The goal being to create a bridge that connects them with the understanding that their journeys are about becoming themselves – while being a positive influence, contributing to, and shaping the future of work and prosperity of our region.