What are schools and businesses currently doing and what works well?

Trying to work together when your speak a different language is always going to make things difficult, so our aim is to get schools and businesses on the same page speaking the same lingo.

How you engage with youth to better prepare them for the workforce can depend on their age; there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The table on the following pages provides an overview of three stages of engagement: expose, explore and experience. You will find examples of events, including what other businesses have done, and the intended outcomes of each stage.


Suitable for 10-14 year olds 

Watching and listening to information that
reveals ideas and concepts of working.


Suitable for 13-16 year olds 

Interactive activities to help rangatahi
explore and examine the world of work. 


Suitable for 16-18 year olds 

Hands-on experience where they gain practical insights and contacts under supervision. 

High School Year 10 Events

Each year local high schools, such as Te Puke High School, hold events for Year 10 students to network and talk with employers, supported by the local busienss community., with support from the local business community, holds an event for Year 10 students to network and talk with employers. It’s a great opportunity to learn about pathways, why people love their jobs and get them excited about their future work. It’s often the highlight of the year for many students.

EPIC Day Out

Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) Bay of Plenty Branch and local civil construction companies, in partnership with Priority One, Instep, organised an EPIC Day Out. Students and deputy principals from the region were able to witness the civil engineering industry first-hand on a site visit and gain a real-life link to employers.

Beca Day 

Local engineers, Beca, hosted an inspiring day of information and activities showcasing the vast range of engineering disciplines, including a tour of the Chapel Street Wastewater Treatment plant. Students acknowledged that it uncovered an area they had little understanding or appreciation for prior to the day.

Pathways Evening

These events have great attendance by students and businesses who are keen to connect. Students and parents are encouraged to explore pathway options they may not be familiar with. Many business representatives are ex-students, showing students exactly how others have achieved great things after leaving school.

Mount Maunganui College have been successfully running Pathways Evenings for several years with great results for students and businesses.

Local Business Subject Visits

Learning about business studies in class is one thing, but seeing it in action is another. For example, through Subject Visits, Tauranga Boys’ College gives students the chance to experience first-hand how their studies relate to the workforce, particularly with companies leading the charge in innovation and strategy. These networks and connections promote these businesses as preferred employers for high achieving students.

Summer Internship Programme - BOPRC

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council Summer Internship Programme allows students to gain practical experience in a field they’re studying – giving them a taste of what’s ahead. It works well for the Council because they get to mentor and develop students over the 12 weeks, building long-lasting relationships.

Whānau Evenings

To nurture high achieving and confident rangatahi, we need to show them those who’ve gone before. Whānau Evenings bring together people of all ages for korero and kai; it’s a chance for them to hear from successful local Maōri business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders in their respective fields. Katikati College have successfully run Whānau Evenings in the past and those who have attended - both rangatahi and businesses - found it inspiring and extremely rewarding.

Creative Sector Event

Three local schools came together and collaborated with artists, businesses, contractors, and employers from the creative sector to highlight what creativity is, how it is a key employability skill, and how that translates in multiple roles and industries. Joining forces is a win-win for all involved – resources are pooled together and students are given equal opportunities.

yia! Internship Opportunity

Clare Ma, the 2020 yia! Junior Category winner was awarded a 2-day internship at Cucumber to develop a prototype for her award-winning entry. Clare was guided by experts throughout the process and gained valuable insights into the process of developing an app from start to finish.

Aurecon and Te Wharekura o Mauao Partnership

A new partnership between Aurecon and Te Wharekura o Mauao provides additional tutoring for students studying STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). In return, Aurecon receives the benefit of the kura’s cultural expertise to build their cultural capability. 

Toi Kai Rawa – Discovery Tours

Providing a safe and welcoming space for rangatahi Māori is important for Toi Kai Rawa. Seeing natural and ancestral attributes in a local setting helps students picture themselves in that industry. One example is a Marine STEAM Discovery tour which enabled students from across the region to meet with academics, business leaders and environmental advocates to learn about the real outcomes in that industry.

Holland Beckett Career in Law

Providing a genuine ‘warts and all’ introduction to the world of law, the HOBEC ‘Career in Law’ presentation provides students with a detailed overview of all things legal. From studying, key skills, and even salary questions – students gain a comprehensive understanding of what makes for a successful career in law, and the type of people HOBEC look to recruit.

Student Service Days

Each year local high schools, such as Tauranga Girls’ College, put the call out to local businesses who would benefit from engaging with students who are keen to give back to the community by way of a Service Day. Volunteering is a great way for business to get involved in supporting skill development. Keep an eye out for upcoming opportunities to take part!

Canvas Careers Expo

The annual CANVAS Careers Expo is an opportunity for businesses, educational providers, students and anyone interested in pursuing a new career to connect. It gives them the chance to understand who they are, what they can offer and where their skills might take them.

Super Yacht Coatings & Speed Meet Event

Ben Steele from Super Yacht Coatings attended a Speed Meet event where businesses had 4-minutes to introduce their trade to young people. From that event, Ben employed one young person who has since turned out to be one of their best employees. He highly recommends the event and would do it again in a heartbeat. 


  • Broaden horizons
  • Challenge perceptions
  • Relevance of classroom learning


  • Understand expectations
  • Pathway stories
  • Connection between subject and skills


  • Workplace culture
  • Employability skills
  • Economy ecosystem

Who else to engage with?

Out of school engagement

Schools provide a vital pathway and set up connections between students and industry. Did you know there is also a growing number of other youth providers who have been specifically set up to support students and rangatahi who are considered NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training)?

These essential organisations provide extra support for students and rangatahi who may be facing additional challenges and need a helping hand. It’s sometimes as simple as offering a good role model and helping them find their sense of direction, which can be life changing for many. 

To learn more about connecting with these organisations, reach out to Ara Rau – Pathways to Work, our local skills and employment hub.

Engaging with our teachers

79% of students get their career advice from their teachers or parents (based on a survey of over 300 students from the 2021 Canvas Careers Expo), so it’s essential that teachers and employers develop strong connections, too. Strong relationships with local employers will help teachers contextualise their subjects and career conversations, to ensure students are hearing about real-life and close-to-home examples, reinforcing the message that they don’t need to leave the region to start a successful career.

There are plenty of ways to start connecting with teachers, which could include:

  • Hosting on events for teaching staff to give them a better understanding of your business, the type of roles available, and the culture.
  • Attending subject selection evenings as an industry representative.

A great example of this in action is the Principals’ Day Out. Each year Instep partners with leading local businesses to host local secondary school principals. These days provide a great way for senior school leaders to connect with the employment community which, in turn, helps rangatahi (young people) make vital connections. 

However you choose to engage, you will be contributing to creating an informed and engaged community.

Focus on the E's

Here’s some top tips to making the most of the interactions, for yourself and for the rangatahi involved.


Your talent and workforce needs might feel urgent right now, but you need to have a long-term plan in mind. By developing authentic relationships, engaging early, encouraging diversity and increasing awareness of your industry, your talent pool will grow. 


  • Engage early for supported transition 
  • Engage with diverse groups of students


Show rangatahi what makes your business tick and what it is that gets your staff up and excited to come to work every day. Equally, share with them the challenges your industry is facing and how you’re tackling them. This will help them understand your purpose and how they might be able to contribute in the future.


  • Share authentic and inspiring stories
  • Share your business' future goals


Introduce rangatahi to younger role models from within your business. People can’t be what they can’t see! Show them the kind of professional development opportunities they may have access to and how you’ll help them reach their goals. Empower rangatahi with the understanding of progression within your business.


  • Show youth success
  • Show progression opportunities


Where possible, include practical elements in your engagement. This is the best way for people to learn. What tangible skills will they need in your industry? Share knowledge to help them develop these skills and how they can demonstrate them.


  • Share skills needed to succeed
  • 'Learn by doing' compomponents