Programmes for young people not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETS)

Illustration of a koru

Children and young people are learning and developing

Lead agency:
Ministry for Pacific Peoples
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Ministry of Social Development
Te Puni Kōkiri
Action timeframe:
From 2018

Budget 2019 and Budget 2020 provided funding to expand programmes that enhance education and employment outcomes for young people:

  • Mana in Mahi - Strength in Work: a programme to help get disadvantaged young people into long term sustainable employment while gaining an apprenticeship or formal industry qualification. Budget 2020 provided for the expansion of Mana in Mahi as part of the Apprenticeship Support Programme.  It now offers additional supports to employers and includes workers of all ages who may have to retrain as a result of COVID-19. The first phase delivered 247 placements against a target of 150. Phase Two commenced in July 2019 with the aim of a further 1,850 placements by the end of the 2022/23 year. In August 2020 the focus of Mana in Mahi was broadened to support all age groups due to the widespread impacts of COVID-19.

  • Tupu Aotearoa (previously called Pacific Employment Support Service): Providers are contracted to work with and support Pacific young people NEETs and engage directly with Pacific families and communities to ensure Pacific young people NEETs are supported into employment and training. Budget 2019 and 2020 funding and the Provincial Growth Fund will expand the service across New Zealand into New Regions and will extend services to Pacific People of all ages. Find out more

  • He Poutama Rangatahi: Budget 2019 provided additional funding for this initiative that supports communities to develop pathways (poutama) for rangatahi (young people aged 15 to 24 years) who are NEETs and take them through to sustained employment, underpinned by intensive pastoral care. As at December 2019, this initiative was supporting around 2,300 rangatahi.  Further funding in Budget 2020 will help give Poutama Rangatahi a sustained footing in the regions and speed up its establishment in urban areas like West and South Auckland, Hamilton, Porirua and East Christchurch.  

Other initiatives supporting young people include:

  • Pae Aronui: This initiative aims to enhance skills and employment opportunities for rangatahi Māori aged 15-24 who are NEETs. Pae Aronui targets urban areas of South and West Auckland, Hamilton, Porirua and the Hutt Valley as they have the highest number of Māori rangatahi who are not in employment, education or training, and with the highest projected employment growth rates. More than 250 rangatahi were engaged across the target regions in 2019, with many achieving employment and education outcomes.

  • Taiohi Ararau: Passport to Life: Budget 2020 provided funding to expand this programme for taiohi aged 15-24 who are NEETs. Through the programme, participants can access essential documents including a birth certificate, bank account, driver's licenses, or an IRD number.

An evaluation of these two programmes is underway.

Two new initiatives have also been established: The Māori Trades Training Fund ($50 million over two years) and the Interim Regional Skills Leadership Group.  


UPDATE: More investment to help address complex and longer-term youth engagement issues

A new ‘Better Pathways’ package, which aims to place more young people in education, training or work, was announced in September 2022. The package includes expansions of existing programmes.

Find out more