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No limits on opportunities for Christchurch youth

18 September 2018

Finishing high school can be an exciting yet daunting experience, particularly when you’ve got no idea what you want to be when you grow up.

For Christchurch youth, deciding what career path to pursue after they’ve finished school has been made easier thanks to an inspirational program called Limitless.

Limitless’ Founder April McLennan is helping hundreds of young people discover their potential and leverage their own unique strengths, passions and values as they explore future career opportunities. 

McLennan, 21, says her own experiences inspired her to set up Limitless at just 17 to support fellow youth with their transition from school into today’s workforce.

“One of the specific struggles that encouraged me to create Limitless was the struggle to decide what I was going to do after school,” says McLennan, who grew up in Ōtautahi, Christchurch with her parents and three sisters.

“I got a little overwhelmed by all the options for study and work pathways and wasn’t sure which way to go.”

She found this dilemma was shared by many other young people and so Limitless was born. In summer 2015/16, April took part in Live the Dream, an incubator programme that supports New Zealand’s young social entrepreneurs to build capability and bring their ventures to life. 

"During the Live the Dream accelerator, I made the decision to take a ‘gap year’ to work on Limitless, see how it went, and review it the following year – and the rest is history," she says.

The registered charity has a mission to equip young New Zealanders with the awareness, confidence and opportunities to pursue and excel in work they are passionate about. 

Limitless runs conferences for high school students where they can be inspired and empowered through interaction with speakers and each other. Post-conference, young people have access to an online portal which connects them with opportunities for mentoring, work experience, volunteering and more.

These professional development opportunities help equip young people with the experience, inspiration and information to make informed decisions about their future career pathways.

ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Business & Innovation Richard Sandford says Christchurch faces a skills shortage of 73,000 by 2031, meaning our region needs to retain talented people to drive economic growth and remain competitive.

“This talent retention can also help attract new talent to our city, and so it’s imperative that we continue to develop our local talent pipeline by ensuring our young people are supported to finish high school and make that transition to the workforce of today,” he says.

“Innovation is part of Christchurch’s DNA and our city is home to many opportunities, services and ecosystems, a great tertiary sector and supportive business community,” Sandford says.

“These are exciting times to welcome a new generation of young talent to join our central city workforce as Christchurch is busy exploring its new identity and the opportunities that come with it.”

For April and Limitless, the future looks bright.  Limitless finished its 2018 conference in Christchurch earlier this month, connecting 230 students with entrepreneurs from throughout New Zealand in recognition for her work in this space. She’s dedicated the past three years to showing some 730 students from 30 schools around Canterbury their opportunities are limitless.

“I can’t tell you where I’ll be in five years, but my plans are to continue exploring new, exciting opportunities to deliver high quality, transformational programs to our youth,” she says.