“Like much of regional New Zealand, the Coast is facing the dual challenge of an aging population and youth leaving to study in the big city, with many not coming back,” says Development West Coast chief executive Heath Milne.
But the region is working together in an attempt to stem the brain drain.
DWC offers four scholarships annually, valued up to $32,500 per student over the course of their studies, and internships are being offered by local businesses to encourage West Coast tertiary students to come back home during academic breaks and after they graduate.
Last year’s scholarship recipients have just spent the summer holidays doing internships on the West Coast.
Rachel Morris from Hokitika is one of DWC’s 2022 scholarship recipients. She is currently studying nursing at Ara Institute of Canterbury and had the opportunity to work during the academic break as a healthcare assistant at Te Nikau Hospital in Greymouth.
“It has been an amazing learning opportunity, I have learned many skills such as how to deal with difficult situations and getting a glimpse of what nursing will be like in the future while working there,” Rachel said.
Chrysantha Pereira a clinical nurse manager at Te Nikau Hospital said Rachel has brought with her “enthusiasm, hard work and a can-do attitude.”
She believes the internship programme is important as “it enables the interns to see healthcare and its joys and challenges up close.”
Clark Fountain, another of the 2022 scholarship recipients, is heading into his second year studying Industrial Product Design at University of Canterbury.
“I’m considering a career in design and engineering, because I have always loved making things as a kid and it's an area that I am passionate about,” he said.
Clark has been doing an internship with Greymouth engineering firm, Quality Machining Ltd.
“I have learned heaps about current computer-aided design packages which is going to give me a head start when I get taught them this year at university. Besides this, I have also learned a lot about management and administration, skills that aren't usually taught in my degree,” he said.
Scholarship recipient Scarlett Hamilton from Westport is currently studying a double degree in Law and Arts, majoring in Cultural Studies and minoring in Political Science at University of Canterbury.
During the university holidays she has been doing an internship at Connors Legal.
“Working at Connors Legal has shown me the benefits of working at a smaller firm on the Coast rather than a large-scale firm in the city,” Scarlett said.
“There is much more diversity in work available on the Coast and a better, more personal work environment. I would be super keen to help the people on the Coast as much as I can to give thanks for all the awesome opportunities that have been provided to me.”
Shannon Hollis, a senior associate at Connors Legal, said “we want to attract Coast graduates back to work in our communities so offering the holiday internship gives students a taste of what returning to work in their hometown is like.”
“To ensure the continued success of our region we need to entice our young people back home to work in their chosen profession. The best enticement is through providing as many opportunities to live and work in the region as possible."
The latest round of Development West Coast Tertiary Scholarships was awarded in December to Julian Guppy, Zoe Double, Portia Wyatt and Molly Williams.
“Local businesses are already lining up to take them on for internships,” Heath Milne said.
“We’ve got some amazing talent here on the Coast, and it’s great to see local businesses working together to help retain them in the region.”
International students embrace the West Coast
Being an international student can be a life-changing experience. It offers an opportunity to explore a different country, culture, and language. For Marlene, Johanna and Julia, the decision to become international students brought them from Germany to Westland High School in Hokitika.Learn more