The Warehouse gives young Kiwis head-start

A successful pilot programme aimed at getting unskilled young people a job is expanding. 

Participants get work experience at The Warehouse, but it's hoped what they gain is the life experience they need to get a job.

One of those participants, Taylor Booth, said she used to do nothing. Now she's an employee, working for the Warehouse's online team thanks to the initiative.

"I felt like more of an adult, going to work and coming home again," she told Newshub.

The Warehouse's Red Shirts programme offers unskilled 16- to 24-year-olds the training they need to get a job.

It's a three-week unpaid programme supported by the Ministry of Social Development.  

The Ministry, which chooses who will go on the programme, pays for participants' shoes and trousers, bought at cost price from The Warehouse.

"At the end of the programme their eyes are sparkling, their posture is up, they are able to hold a conversation with you," The Warehouse's Shari French told Newshub.

"It's incredible, the self-esteem and the growth we see is amazing."

Around 90,000 young people aged between 15 and 24 years old are not in employment, education or training. The Ministry is working with 18,000 of them.

The Minister says such training has to start early, as 75 percent of long-term beneficiaries first get the benefit before they are 20.

The programme teaches workplace safety, customer service and confidence.

"It's absolutely essential we give them that before they turn 20, before they go onto a benefit," Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Newshub.

So far 250 young people have been through the course, with 70 percent of them getting jobs within three months and 50 of them working at The Warehouse.

The programme will now be rolled out to more Warehouse stores around the country and will take in a further 1000 young people.