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As far as launches go, it was an evening to remember. Hosted by New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young, nearly 200 people filled a conference room at the Devon Hotel to welcome Accelerator, his latest youth employment initiative. Jonathan’s previous brainchild, Taranaki Futures, is now well established and successfully provides a clear pathway for secondary school students who don’t go to university but want to pursue a career in the trades. It was hard to imagine how Accelerator would be able to compete with that and while it’s obviously early days yet, it nevertheless appeals as being more than able to hold its own.

Guests were welcomed by Stacey Hitchcock who holds the position of Community Relations & Project Lead from Jonathan’s office, who has worked tirelessly alongside Jonathan to bring together schools, employers, coaches and students into the Accelerator programme.

For his part, Minister Joyce said he was excited to be there to officially open the programme which will include students from New Plymouth's Boy’s and Girl's High Schools, Sacred Heart, Francis Douglas, Spotswood College and Waitara High School. Mr Joyce said how important mentors Norton Moller and John Armstrong, were to him when he first went into business. They guided him as he built up a multi-million dollar media company after starting up New Plymouth radio station Energy FM. Mr Joyce had the audience captivated as he recalled how it all began.

“To the young people in the room, who are thinking of starting out professionally I’ve got to tell you it’s the biggest buzz. In my day when you left school it was all about becoming a lawyer or an accountant, but starting up a business and providing a great service or product for people and succeeding is just the most amazing thing.”

“Now you’ve got the opportunity to see a bit of that through this programme, so take that chance with both hands. Make sure you have a good look, because that’s the exciting thing about this programme.’’

Jonathan and the Accelerator programme are supported by a great team of coaches including:

Stacey Hitchcock (MP’s Office), Maura Young (Chamber of Commerce), Warwick Foy (Taranaki Futures), Sophie Braggins (Strategy Collective), Puna Wano-Bryant (DOC), Charlotte McIsaac (Strategy Collective), Stephanie Murray (Stephanie Murray Mortgages), Ryan Evans (Taranaki Daily News), Daniel Radcliffe (International Volunteer HQ), Ellen Varoy (International Volunteer HQ), Murali Bhaskar (BGBB Team Architects), Dinnie Moeahu (DMan Entertainment), Ashtrin Haimona (DMan Entertainment).

The coaches bring current experience as well as their own story of their career path journey to the students. They are giving their time every Monday night and are a great example of “giving back” to our Taranaki community.

(Written by Gordon Brown)

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