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Good place . . . Timaru was considered to be a good place to live by 57% of those who answered the YMCA's Youth Survey, but hopes for ongoing career opportunities are not quite as positive. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

While 65% of South and Mid Canterbury young people say their district has good opportunities to find employment, 49% do not believe they live in a good location to advance a career, findings from the 2019 YMCA Youth Survey show.

OTHER ASPECTS OF THE YMCA’S YOUTH SURVEY INCLUDED:

SEEKING SUPPORT

YMCA communications manager Michele Keggenhoff said findings had been mostly consistent since the survey began five years ago, but mental health/depression/stress had surpassed concerns about alcohol as the biggest health issue facing young people.

However, this was likely due to the increasing awareness about the topic – particularly through the media they were consuming, she said.

This was also a similar story for a drop in the number of young people turning to those closest to them for support, Ms Keggenhoff said.

While young people would still predominantly turn to family/whanau in a difficult time, this had dropped from 82% in 2017 to 66%.

The percentage of those who say they would seek support from school, online resources and telephone helplines had increased, although Ms Keggenhoff said this was likely to do with more awareness about services available.

ACTIVITIES

While more than half of survey respondents said they regularly or “sometimes” took part in sporting clubs or activities, Ms Keggenhoff said this dropped in the years young people were dealing with NCEA exams.

This “increased sharply” about the age of 24, which Ms Keggenhoff said was to be expected as people settled into a routine of life post-school and study.

Only 26% took part in arts or cultural events regularly or sometimes, while a quarter took part in arts events “once in a while”.

Choirs and other singing activities were attended regularly or sometimes by 23% of respondents, and 20% were regularly or sometimes involved with drama groups.

Tramping or other outdoor pursuits were undertaken regularly or sometimes by 36% of respondents, while 25% went into the outdoors “once in a while”.

Although just under two-thirds of residents in the Timaru district identified as Christian on the 2013 Census, 69% of Youth Survey respondents said they were never involved in religious activities.

Scouts and guides had the lowest turnout rate for activities, 79% of respondents saying they were never involved in the groups, while just 15% of South and Mid Canterbury young people attended a youth group/club regularly or sometimes.

ALCOHOL AND INTERNET USAGE

Alcohol was not a huge issue for those surveyed, 65% saying they did not need alcohol to have a good time, while 51% did not drink at all.

However, the tendency to keep pace with the drinking of peers increased from 8% of 15-year-olds to a quarter of 23-year-olds.

Ms Keggenhoff said the indication that 31% of respondents were not influenced by their peers’ drinking, did not necessarily mean they were drinking responsibly.

Just under half (46%) of survey respondents believed they had enough information to know how to drink responsibly and safely, while just 12% said they did not have enough skills and knowledge about safe drinking and needed more.

INTERNET

Instagram was the most-used social media application, 68% saying they used the platform multiple times a day. More than half of respondents accessed YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Facebook multiple times a day, but 81% rarely or never used Twitter.

Just over 20% of respondents said they spent more than eight hours on the internet each day, while 36% estimated usage of between 1 and 4 hours and 26% used the internet for 4 to 6 hours a day.

About 60% of South Canterbury respondents said they would consider a “digital detox”.

YMCA communications manager Michele Keggenhoff said the key findings from 2019 survey of Mid and South Canterbury residents aged 12-24 were largely consistent with the three previous surveys undertaken by the organisation in 2017, 2015 and 2014.

Aoraki Development chief executive Nigel Davenport said the economic development agency had been “working hard” to inform young people about the career opportunities in the region.

The organisation’s My Next Move youth initiative had included hosting the Career Pathways Expo for more than 600 year 11 pupils earlier this year, as well as hosting industry visits and guest speakers at schools, he said.

“By getting people working in our businesses to talk directly to the students about how they’ve progressed their careers, it gives real-life insights for the young people and hopefully ignites some ideas.”

He said getting younger staff to talk to the school pupils enabled a better connection as they might only be a few years older than them or remember them from school.

“It’s creating a link that’s easy to relate to, rather than a senior manager with 20 years plus in the workforce.”

YMCA South Canterbury communications manager Michele Keggenhoff

Ms Keggenhoff said the generally positive experiences young people had growing up in South and Mid Canterbury tended to suggest people thought “I’d really like to come back here, if .. ” they could find work in a particular field, or other circumstances lined up.

Mr Davenport said the organisation was attracting people to return to the Timaru district by reminding them about the “great things we have on offer here”, including easy commuting, affordable housing and access to the outdoors.

get a little older, these things are increasingly important.

“Couple this with great job opportunities – we believe we have something really special to offer.”

He said beliefs expressed in the survey that career progression was limited in the district could be disputed by the record low unemployment in the district.

“By getting people working in our businesses to talk directly to the students about how they’ve progressed their careers, it gives real-life insights for the young people and hopefully ignites some ideas.”

While survey results suggested just 15% of young people planned to stay in the district after completing school or study, Mr Davenport said the growing number of diverse employment opportunities in Timaru would, over time, reduce the trend.

“There’s an abundance of opportunities to advance careers for young people in Timaru district as long as they’ve got a good attitude to work and are ready to commit to the challenge.”

The 2019 YMCA South and Mid Canterbury Youth Survey was answered by 370 young people from Ashburton, the Mackenzie, Timaru and Waimate districts.