Growing Our Region

Talent Central creates pathways for young people

​When the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan was created three years ago; skills and talent was identified as one of the four key enablers critical to supplying the means, resources and knowledge to achieve prosperity for the Manawatū-Whanganui region by 2025. 
A number of organisations within the region have been set up to address this need, supporting our young people in their journey from education to employment.
Talent Central is the largest of those organisations, directly impacting young people across the Manawatū-Whanganui region. Led ably by CEO Margaret Kouvelis, they are fostering collaboration, inspiring our talent and creating pathways for learners and in turn building the capacity of industries in our region.

“Our team are working tirelessly to ensure students and young people have the knowledge to make informed decisions about their futures,” says Margaret.

“They do this while building the skills and experience to get to where they want to be.”

Talent Central’s lynchpin programme is the Work Ready Portfolio (WRP). The WRP is an industry designed resource to prepare youth with a ‘work ready’ attitude and the appropriate skills sought by employers. Initially the programme was delivered by providers, however it is now in a digital format, available on the My Mahi app. This means teachers can now deliver the programme directly to students themselves.

Talent Central aims to have the WRP delivered to all students in the Manawatū-Whanganui region and they are well on their way. Last year 200 students were registered and already this year nearly 500 students are now actively involved.

This year, Talent Central has also introduced WorkEx. WorkEx allows young people to experience an industry or career which is of interest to them.  Talent Central already has over 70 businesses who are offering opportunities which may lead to further work down the line.

“WorkEx may help a young person realise a particular career path or industry is, or is not for them,” says Margaret.

“Either way we see it as a win, as they are building their knowledge of the opportunities available and basing their decisions on that knowledge.”

Businesses such as Higgins, Downers and BidFoods are also coming into schools to inform students of opportunities in their workplace. The programme, called “Where’s My Job?” allows them to speak to full school assemblies, or meet in smaller group situations depending on the most appropriate need.

The next step for Talent Central is building an industry ready programme, ensuring employers are youth ready.

“It’s about the culture of the organisation, enabling a business to care for their young people when they start and then finding pathways for personal growth and development,” says Margaret.
While Talent Central is introducing a number of programmes, building their portfolio of schools, individuals and businesses, they are well aware of ensuring sustained growth.

“I guess you could say, here at Talent Central we fly under the radar to a degree,” says Margaret.

“We do this because we want to build a platform in a sustainable way which is accessible by the whole Manawatū-Whanganui region, with the potential for us to grow and provide an impact nationally.”

Talent Central works with a number of agencies including the Chamber of Commerce, BCC Innovate, Accelerate25, the Ministry for Social Development, UCOL and Massey. Funding is always a challenge, however Talent Central are fortunate to have CEDA as a major funder, ensuring their ongoing work as they look at alternative forms of revenue for the long term.

If you think your business would be interested in being involved with Talent Central, contact Margaret today on