New initiative launched to stop young people driving without a licence

A new initiative's aiming to put a stop to young people getting behind the wheel without a driver's licence.

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The Government funded programme will make it easier for Auckland students from low decile schools to sit their test. Source: 1 NEWS

A pilot of the Government funded programme has seen 1000 students from low decile schools get their licence since October.

As a result, the Ministry of Social Development’s announced it’s expanding the programme, with $3 million of funding locked in over the next three years.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said: "So what we're going to see is between now and June next year, 3000 people will get access to a licence through MSD's partnership with low decile schools, the police and the [Auckland Chamber of Commerce]".

The programme involves three day theory courses, run at schools, making it easier for thousands of Auckland students from low decile schools to prepare for and then sit their test.

Ms Sepuloni told 1 NEWS over 3000 people were convicted of driving without a licence last year, around half of those under 25.

Aorere College’s Director of Vocational Pathways, Rich Talbot said" "It's certainly not cheap for many of our students, so cost is definitely a barrier.

"Organising themselves to get them to sit the test is another factor," he said.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Michael Barnett said he understands, that "young kids get a conviction and that becomes the first barrier to work".

Year 13 Aorere College student Sione Aso almost found himself in that position, but after taking part in the MSD course, he’s now passed his learners test.

“If we can remove the possibility of an early conviction, and show the importance of having a licence, it does get them better access into their communities and to employment,” said Mr Barnett.

“We know that having a licence can be, and transport can be, one of the biggest barriers to employment,” said Ms Sepuloni.

“So let's take that barrier away and let’s get in early,” she said.

The test itself can also be done at school, on testing tablets.

VTNZ’s Craig Basher said: "Rather than kids having to leave the school environment, and go to a foreign environment, which is one of the barriers they face, we can take the driver licensing experience to the schools".

The Auckland initiative is part of a wider national programme of support for driver licencing.

Ms Sepuloni says that "over the next two years the youth scheme is expected to support up to 2,500 people in the Youth Service or Oranga Tamariki care to get their driver's licence".