During the lockdown close to 1000 young people currently enrolled in the Youth Employability Programme (YEP) were able to access a range of online resources to continue building their skills, including a series of short videos by ‘That YEP Guy’.

YEP was established by COMET Auckland five years ago and now operates in 12 regions/areas around the country. It is designed to make it possible for all 14-24 year olds to gain the insight, confidence and skills to get work, keep work and create careers.

Prior to the lock down, local providers were struggling to think of ways they could support their learners once they were no longer able to have face-to-face contact. They were delighted to receive a package of online self-care resources from COMET.

Shirley Johnson, Director of Youth Employability at COMET, said the first component of the self-care pack is a questionnaire that helps young people assess where they’re at with their self-care, then there are a range of resources and activities they can access to build their skills in this area.

A series of fun and useful videos have been produced by Māori actor, Karlton Laing, ‘That YEP Guy’. The videos are based on the seven employability skills in the national Employability Framework. The first covers the importance of self-care.

“We went as broad as possible, looking at topics like fitness and exercise, mental health, what they were eating, whether they were smoking or not, screen time, how to be a good friend to yourself, meditation... The feedback that we have had from providers is that the resources are just what they need, and they tell us that young people like Karlton. He is funny, he’s entertaining, and he gives them information without lecturing them. We find that different age groups use different parts of the resource, depending on where they are at. There has also been feedback that they like the questionnaire because they often find that they are doing better than they thought. The cool thing is that we know this resource has been passed on locally, to other youth groups, because it helps young people feel connected, supported and hopeful.”

Around the country YEP providers also used platforms like Zoom to connect with their learners.

As usual, one of the barriers for some young people was lack of connectivity. COMET found that MSD, TPK and Women’s Refuge were all helping young people with this by either paying for an internet connection – or providing laptops.

The other ‘That YEP Guy’ videos in the series are designed to support young people to build the skills they need to get a job and enable them to progress into higher skilled work.

The online resources, including all the videos featuring ‘That YEP Guy’, can be found on COMET’s website, the YEP Facebook page and on Instagram @thatyepguy. COMET is an Auckland City Council Controlled Organisation and Charitable Trust.