A project to match local youth with prospective employers was launched on Monday night with no fanfare.

But that does not mean its creators and supporters are not proud of it. They are simply waiting until we move into Covid-19 Level 1 to hold a celebration.

Youth Employment Success, shortened to the appropriate acronym Yes, has been sponsored by WaiYou!, which itself evolved from the Work Ready Passport initiative backed by the Waitaki and Waimate District Councils, schools, businesses, and community groups.

It operates under the Rotary Club of Oamaru, which has charitable trust status and provides free banking services for the National Lottery Community Fund grant.

WaiYou! chairwoman Cara Tipping Smith said Yes was a gold standard, multi-award-winning programme that made one-on-one connections between youth and employer that changed lives.

The project was not so much about placing people in jobs right away, but about them finding out what was available in the workforce, she said.

The online platform was free to use by people aged 16 to 24. They could find youth-friendly employers offering anything from an informal meeting over coffee to site visits, work experience, mentoring and apprenticeships.

Ms Tipping Smith was thrilled with the number of businesses that were taking part.

“We’ve got a bunch of businesses with a whole bunch of opportunities.

“There’s a really good range.”

Some were small operations, such as Acupuncture Oamaru, where owner Elise Blundell was already involved with the Waitaki Girls’ High School Gateway programme, and children’s wear retailer Rebellious Rose, whose owner Rachael Keen was branching out into her own clothing label.

At the other end of the scale were businesses including Canterbury Spinners Ltd and Network Waitaki. Across the Waitaki River, the Veterinary Centre Waimate was leading the way.

Each business has a short video clip showing what it does.

It was yet to go out on social media, but has been presented to the Waitaki Youth Council, Ms Tipping Smith said.

“It was quite a low-key result for what has been years in the making.

“It feels like everybody who’s been approached has said yes.

“People are saying done’ to me as the obvious person on the end of the phone, but it has been a community-led, community-developed project.”

Despite the old joke that a camel was a horse designed by a committee, Ms Tipping Smith said Yes was proof that even with a group of about 30 people collaborating, a great outcome was possible.

“This is such an awesome place to live,” she said, reflecting on “the cool stuff people do”.

Those who deserved thanks included St Kevin’s College principal Paul Olsen, Andy Lane from Waitaki Boys’ High School, Viv Hay from Waitaki Girls’, Lions, Rotary, and the Chamber of Commerce.