Limited Service Volunteering - guiding rangatahi into employment and self-esteem

By Regan Paranihi

For many years Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) military boot camps have been changing the lives of young people across the country by preparing them for the workforce.

It's an initiative that is led by the Ministry of Social Development and championed by NZ Defense Force personnel and can be a gateway to a successful future for many rangatahi involved.

Wing Commander Tua Atkinson, Commanding Officer Youth Development Unit says, "They may be a bit lost in some ways, trying to find their feet and we're just about bringing them on board and giving them the skill-sets so they can go out and get employment."

Since 2010 more than 12,000 rangatahi have been through the course and Atkinson says that with a 80% pass rate, many go on to success in their chosen fields of work.

"Employers are after people that are resilient, can make good decisions, can listen to instructions, can communicate well, work in a team and that's what we are building here."

Returning trainee Roden Boyka says this is his second chance to better his future.

"I fell back into that wrong lifestyle and I was looking at life through [the eyes of my whānau] and I wasn't quite happy, I wasn't proud to be their uncle again so that's the reason why I came here."

Te Paea Pou-Baker, another LSV trainee says, "Here they teach you how to keep your mind-frame strong, they really build it up so you have that confidence, you have that high esteem."

The Ministry of Social Development national coordinator says the physical change in the trainees from the beginning to the end is apparent.

Brittnee O'Brien says, "On day one you can tell that they're just struggling, they don't know what they want to do and where they want to be and then by week six they're holding their head up, they're excited about life, they're excited about their futures."

She adds that the funding boost for the program and the new facility in North Auckland will allow them to change more rangatahi lives.

"It means we can bring in more opportunities from the employers that are desperately calling out for young people to be a part of their businesses."

LSV is a national programme, with courses offered out of Wellington and Christchurch, as well as Auckland. 

There have been five courses run this year and there are six more to come.