Bridging the Global Economy with Career Pathways for Opportunity Youth

Next week I have the honor of representing LeadersUp at “Future Ready. Tomorrow’s Workforce. Ready Now” summit in Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve been invited to help strategize with more than 200 employers from across the country and share insights on our LeadersUp model for helping employers build talent pipelines comprised of skilled young adults.


A lack of employer access to entry-level and mid-skill talent is a pain point experienced by businesses worldwide. As President and CEO of LeadersUp, I look forward to deepening the pool of knowledge for how our contemporaries in New Zealand can up-skill and connect the growing number of unemployed youth to career pathways.


On July 26, I will deliver the keynote address on the topic: “Leading Employer-led Solutions in USA and Auckland.” Following the keynote, I will lead a breakout session: “Maximizing Diversity: USA, UK, Christchurch, Auckland, Your Business,” to employers, educators, and workforce development professionals who represent organizations similar to LeadersUp. Like us, they have been called upon to find solutions to engage disconnected young adults and close the talent gaps negatively impacting businesses in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.


Prior to speaking at the summit, I will meet with local organizations and officials, including Patrick McVeigh, general manager of Business, Innovation and Skills at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), the region’s economic growth agency and “Future Ready” summit organizer. Our meeting will focus on practical employer-led programs that are making a real difference in the United States and offer proven strategies for optimizing education and training resources to fill talent needs.


“Youth unemployment is a global issue and sharing key learnings with other countries, such as America, will help close the divide between young people who are eager to progress their career and employers seeking skilled talent,” says Patrick McVeigh. “Employing young people not only helps to tackle Auckland’s high youth unemployment rate, but also reduces the impact of an aging workforce, as well as bringing a digitally savvy group with a fresh perspective into our workplaces.”


“A collaborative approach with youth and tertiary organizations, businesses and policy makers is the best way forward.” Patrick continued, “Stakeholders are committed to finding solutions, with almost 70 leading Auckland employers signing the Youth Employer Pledge, a key initiative aimed at getting more young people into work and onto career pathways.”


New Zealand’s Household Labour Force data estimates show that nearly 90,000 youth aged 15–24 are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs). New Zealand’s NEETs, like young adults called Opportunity Youth, served by LeadersUp in the United States, share similar attributes and challenges. For instance, NEETs are from diverse Pacific and European cultures, mostly from low-income communities where their social status and earning potential is impacted by where they grew up; and the quality of their education and job training opportunities. As in the United States, employers in New Zealand say they are willing to hire young adults who possess a good attitude and provide them training. But many youth lack the soft skills needed to meet basic requirements to be work-ready.


This event is a call to action and serves as a reminder of the similarities and interconnectedness of our global economies. From Auckland to America, the need to ensure the next generation of talent is connected to viable career pathways—that allow youth to make the transition from school, to work, and finally to adulthood—is crucial. Our investment in youth will benefit individuals, communities and local economies. I look forward to sharing what I learn from this milestone gathering and eagerly look forward to the next steps to help design a solid working future for young adults.


In service,

Jeffery Wallace
President & CEO

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