RS Jan2


Building a bridge to future sustainable employment.

February 1 2021 by Ruth Stokes

Building a bridge to future sustainable employment.


A new year, a new job and a new school term, perhaps even a new school, for hundreds of primary and secondary school children across the district.

Taking up the role of Chief Executive for the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce comes with a huge sense of obligation, to serve our business community, the life blood of our special piece of paradise.
To me that obligation entails not just thinking about what we can do today, but what we can do tomorrow and who we can do it with. A big part of that picture are our future employees, employers, entrepreneurs, and investors currently thinking (or trying not to think!) about trading in their pools, parks and parties for classrooms, learning and discipline.

School prepares not just intellectually, but by helping us navigate the most complex question we all face – how do I get along with my fellow humans. It teaches us how to work together, how to compete (and win) but also how to get asked to play again.

We are fortunate in the Wakatipu to have schools led by committed individuals who want to see our children grow and succeed. But what about when they walk out that WHS front door, and Mr Hall, Mr Nathan and Mrs Panapa are no longer looking over their shoulder?

One of the most exciting initiatives on the Chamber work programme is working with the Wakatipu High School careers team in supporting the business community to build the bridge to future sustainable employment, and that’s sustainability from both perspectives.

We often hear about the challenge businesses face in attracting and retaining talent, and sure our schools aren’t going to churn out fully formed engineers, joiners, plumbers, lawyers, drainlayers or (very importantly) bar and hotel managers and staff.

Our local businesses though, can introduce our young people to the exciting and diverse opportunities that lie on their doorstep and by employing and supporting current students and school leavers, we can build a steady future supply of people who are committed or have great memories and want to return.

It might mean we need to think a little differently about the shape of our workforce, but who isn’t in these “different” times. For me supporting our students is just as much “buy local” as eating out and shopping locally.

You might even find yourself learning something in return.

After all, our secondary school students think faster than we do, have more ideas than we do, tech is an extension of themselves and they have a greater passion for looking after our planet (not to mention doing something about it!). If you have an idea that can support this, I’m keen to hear it.

- Ruth Stokes