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Tips for parents on helping young people find a job post-Covid-19

Masson (left), on the Youth Employability Programme, doing his work experience at EcoMatters Bike Hub in New Lynn with Brent the owner.

Youth unemployment may be at a record high post-Covid-19. Shirley Johnson, Director of the Youth Employability Programme, ‘Licence to Work’, urges parents to take responsibility to help their young ones get back on their feet and into the workforce.

Johnson’s advice is that parents keep conversations positive and hopeful. But at the same time be realistic that there are fewer jobs out there and they are harder to get. “Let young people know that they need to be tenacious and really stick at getting a job.”

Johnson has several employability tips that parents can follow.

  1. Be realistic

It is inevitable that jobs will be scarce post-Covid-19. Because of this, young people may not have the option of waiting around for their dream job. Parents need to be encouraging their children to view any job as a foot in the door. Johnson mentions that any job is a step up because “you’re more likely to get a job when you’re already working.”

  1. Voluntary work experience

Finding work is going to be tough and will take a bit of creativity from young people. Paid jobs are not abundant, so offering to work for free for a bit may be the next best thing. It helps young people appear as marketable as possible to future employers. 

  1. Stay connected

Spend quality time with your young people. Get to know what they want to do and help them research it. Parents should sit down with their children; look at what sectors have jobs and the range of work within sectors. Take time to understand the sector and be aware of what jobs are available in your region.

  1. Be flexible and open minded about getting work

It is a reality that in some regions there is less work than in others. Young people need to be willing to travel and work in a different region for some time to get experience. Young people may need to stay with a family member and do seasonal work, like fruit picking.

Johnson says it is important to

be really flexible about how to get that first job.”


Additionally, parents should think broadly about employment sectors. Don’t eliminate certain sectors because they may not be your child’s preferred choice. There are many different types of jobs within a sector that may be of interest. For example, many sectors have public relations roles that could be considered a job possibility.

  1. Getting involved with extra activities

Along with voluntary work experience, another option could be encouraging them to join a group or a campaign. Employers love to see extra-curricular activities on CVs. It shows the candidate cares about something that is bigger than themselves.

  1. Keep their minds going

After Covid-19, a lot of young people will be stuck in holiday mode. Parents should be encouraging their children to learn something new, even if it is out of their comfort zone. Instead of watching Netflix, consider reading and educational documentaries. Create opportunities to problem solve at home. It is an issue that many young people enter the workforce lacking problem solving skills.

  1. Employability framework

Go through the New Zealand Employability Framework which can be downloaded from

Find out what your young people are doing well in and see where there are gaps in their skills. Help them build those skills at home and get them to keep a catalogue of ways they are practising their skills. They are likely to be asked about this in interviews.

  1. Do your research

Encourage your children to visit workplaces and talk to people in preferred sectors of work. It is an awesome way to find out what it is really like to work somewhere. It helps young people in building confidence talking to new people. Also, it can help them think about what questions to ask in an interview.

  1. Networking

Less than 20% of entry level jobs will be advertised following Covid-19. To help young people get their first job, parents need to look within their social circles. Don’t wait for work to be formally advertised, networking is another way of actively looking for jobs.

Parents and young people need to be as broad and creative as possible about who might have a job coming up. For example, you could ask local sports clubs, churches and maraes.

  1. Sort out legal documents

It is commonly overlooked, but very important that young people ensure all their legal documents are in order. Job offers can be missed if employers need to wait for a candidate’s documentation. Parents should make sure their children have a copy of their birth certificate, IRD number and bank account details. Having a valid driver’s license is also key in expanding job opportunities.

  1. Think about what you’ll need and plan ahead

Many employers base their opinion of young people off their appearance. Therefore, appearing presentable and ready to work is imperative. Consider what your young people will need to go to the interview or do the job. A corporate wardrobe or tools for the trades may need to be saved for in advance if funds are low.

  1. Practice makes perfect

Parents can help their young people with putting together a CV and doing mock interviews at home. Ask behavioural questions based around employability skills. For example, ask, ‘tell us about a time where you used your initiative’. This will help your young ones feel more confident for interviews and be better prepared.

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For more information:

For employability tips for youth and parents visit

Shirley Johnson, Youth Employability Director

Shirley developed and leads the Youth Employability initiative, and works closely with employers, industry leaders, government agencies, educators, and youth service organisations. She is also the lead trainer for YEP providers around the country.

Shirley contributed to the development of the national Youth Employability Framework. Her work is closely allied to the Auckland Plan goals for sustainable growth in skills and training for the knowledge-based economy.

Shirley is from Christchurch where she worked in local government and social services.


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