Programme to match out of work young people with mentors

Jacob McElwain participated in the Career Navigator programme when he was in school, with Mark Watson of Robinson Construction Ltd mentoring him. Jacob and Mark encourage participants of the new Career Navigator Community programme to make the most of the opportunities the programme provides.

The Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Career Navigator programme is well known by past and present students in Marlborough. For the past three years, the programme has helped Year 12 and 13 students learn about the workforce; setting them up with mentors, and helping them find a career pathway.

Now, a new programme has come into effect. Called Career Navigator Community, the programme is aimed at young people between the ages of 18-24, who are currently out of work or training. Participants will go through a 15 week course. They will be paired with a high calibre business’ mentor who will help them find a path to the career they aspire to.

Marlborough will be the first region in the country to pilot this programme, with sponsorship from the Marlborough District Council and the Ministry of Social Development.

Jacob McElwain is a successful graduate from the Career Navigator programme. Back when he was a year 12 student at Marlborough Boys’ College, Jacob had aspirations to be a mechanic, but was unsure of the direction he wanted to go. He thought he was getting a detention when he was called into the front office. Instead, he was offered the opportunity to join the Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Career navigator programme.

Mark Watson of Robinson Construction Ltd mentored Jacob during his time with the programme. He says that Jacob’s work ethic impressed him from the beginning.

“He was the number one attendee, and never missed a session. Things like that for any employer are impressive—to be on time, every time. Having skills like that is noticeable.”

During Jacob’s time with the Career Navigator programme, Mark saw a noticeable change in the student, with Jacob becoming more confident and outspoken. Mark would take him and other students to workplaces, where they would talk to the staff and form industry connections.

“It takes them outside their circles, to meet people they wouldn’t meet otherwise,” Mark says. “There’s heaps of opportunity out there.”

Now, Jacob is a graduate of NMIT and works for a local heavy machinery hire company. Jacob and Mark encourage future Career Navigator Community participants to make the most of the programme.

“Try it, don’t ditch it. Make the commitment,” Jacob urges.

“Give it ago. If you haven’t got a clear path, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain,” adds Mark.

“You can’t take these things for granted, especially employment.

Recent Posts


Sign up to our Newsletter

Graeme Dingle Foundation will use the information you provide to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting We will treat your information with respect. View our privacy statement here