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“When I finished [work placement], it opened my eyes to what I really wanted to do,” says Victoria Penitani of Auckland Girls’ Grammar School. Such was the effect of having work experience at Youthline Auckland.

Penitani signed up for her school’s Gateway programme to gain credits towards her NCEA. She was leaning towards social work, so her Gateway Coordinator thought of the youth development organisation, Youthline.

Cathy Aiavao, Manager at Youthline said they try to support a couple of students every year for work placements. “It was good having Victoria. We have various departments that support the youth development sector that she could work in. It was about finding the right fit for her. We wanted to help her find her strengths.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Victoria Penitani (left) and Cathy Aiavao, Manager at Youthline Auckland (right)

Aiavao connected AGGS to Careerforce to support the work placement through the industry training organisation’s Gateway programme. This allowed Penitani to access learning resources and assessments and have NCEA credits reported.

Penitani said she was very nervous at the start but the staff at Youthline were very welcoming. She said they helped her get out of her shell.

“Every week I went into a different department and so I got to talk to many people and learned a lot. I was pretty amazed at what actually goes on behind the scenes.”

“They asked me what I wanted to do and encouraged me to be more open to anything,” Penitani adds.

Aiavao said it’s not easy but very rewarding to support young people this way. “It is a lot of work and time investment but that is what we do. We mentor young people because we want them to go as far as they can. Who knows, they may be working in our sector one day.”

It may just be the case with Penitani as her work placement experience confirmed her decision.

“I was going back and forth on deciding what to study next year and as I was working I gathered information through the people I met. I’m decided now that I’m going to study sociology.”

Aiavao is pleased that they’ve made a positive impact and encourage other employers to open their doors to young people through Gateway placements.

“There are definitely benefits. Everyone walks away getting something out of it. Young people add value. You can learn from them and they can learn from you.”

According to Stephanie Clark, Careerforce’s Northern Regional Manager, “we offer Gateway programmes across a number of our sectors, and they are proving increasingly popular with employers and students alike. It allows students a sampler of working in our various sectors, while earning NCEA credits at the same time, and for employers, it is tapping into their future talent pool, and profiling potential career pathways.”

Through the Careerforce Gateway programme, Penitani achieved 12 credits from unit standards which contributes towards her NCEA level 3 school qualification.

Find out more about Careerforce’s Gateway programme: