Local businesses gather to inspire the next generation

Hanga-Aro-Rau was in the news earlier this month, helping to expand the future career options of Year 9 students at Whangārei Boys’ High School. Here’s the story:

Year 9 students at Whangārei Boys’ High School had their horizons broadened recently, meeting role models from a range of local businesses to find out more about their careers. Organised by Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council and Whangārei Boys’ High School’s Careers and Transition Manager Bronwyn Jenkins, the Inspiring the Future event stretched over three two-hour sessions, with 36 role models from the community turning up to inspire around 350 Year 9 students.

Bronwyn said the event, developed by the Tertiary Education Commission, was well-received and had the goal of planting a seed to help students realise that there are more careers out there than just the conventional pathways. She was impressed by the turnout from the local community, including a strong contingent from the WBHS Old Boys’ Association who were keen to be involved. “We had CEOs, engineers, mortuary technicians, a rocket scientist, and a nano-robot scientist, among others. We have an amazing range of people in our local community,” Bronwyn explained.

Astrid van Holten from Hanga-Aro-Rau Workforce Development Council was also involved in organising the event, which she said provided a valuable opportunity for local industries to connect with the school and for the students to learn more about a range of different careers. “The role models were passionate about helping young people and attracting new workers to their businesses,” Astrid said, adding that “attracting young people into industries is vitally important as we know that many sectors will be facing significant labour shortages in the future”.

One of the role models who came along was Neal Moss, Engineering Manager at Hansen Products. Neal said that it was “well worth the effort” to encourage students to start thinking about the subjects they need to take for careers outside of what they may have thought about. And the chance for Hansen Products to give back to the community was also a big plus, Neal added.

Bronwyn said that there will be more of these events in the future, including furthering the discussion for these Year 9 students as they progress through high school. Anyone who would like to register as a role model for future events can visit

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