Limited Services Volunteer programme review

The Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) programme is a residential motivational training programme funded by the Ministry of Social Development and delivered by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). This review considered how the programme addresses barriers to employment and training for young New Zealanders.

The LSV programme targets 18 to 24 year olds who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Trainees stay in a military area for six weeks and undertake basic military training alongside learning skills for life and employment.

How the review was done

The review used a combination of methods including interviews, surveys, background research, and information gathering.

Trainees were surveyed and interviewed to understand their perspectives on the programme. Interviews were also undertaken with NZDF personnel and other Government officials involved with the programme, employers and training organisations associated with the programme, and LSV patrons.

Other research included reviewing relevant programme documents, analysing programme data, and researching current and historic programmes in New Zealand and overseas.

Findings and recommendations

The review found that before undertaking the LSV programme, the most common barriers to employment for trainees were: substance abuse, poor mental health, a dysfunctional home environment, low motivation, a “poverty of experience”, a lack of basic life and employment skills, and a lack of a driver licence.

The LSV programme help trainees in three ways:

  • The structured military environment fosters learning and development by providing a level starting point through conformity and consistency of treatment, being safe, predictable, and drug free, and having a focus on fitness and nutrition.
  • The life and employment skills that the programme provides helps trainees to learn and achieve employment and job search skills (eg, CVs, interviews), basic life skills (eg, personal care, budgeting), social skills and values training, and confidence.
  • The wraparound practical and personal support helps trainees to address issues that they have not been able to tackle in the past. Support is provided by military personnel, social workers, police mentors, patrons, and peers, and includes health support and help with practical issues.

The review found that after the programme more than half of trainees gain work or enter training. For those who remain on benefit, ongoing barriers to training or employment include:

  • maintaining positive habits after returning to their home environment
  • a return to substance abuse
  • a return to a dysfunctional or unsupportive home environment, or
  • unwillingness to change.

The review found that improving post-programme mentoring and support could enhance outcomes, and that such support should be:

  • consistently available across New Zealand
  • adaptable to trainees’ needs
  • long-term
  • connected into the trainee’s whānau/family, and
  • includes opportunities for peer-to-peer support.

Finally, the review considered if a longer programme, such as the 20-week 1980s version of the LSV programme, might have better employment outcomes than the current LSV programme.

The review found that improvements to post-programme support would probably be as effective as a longer programme, and potentially better value for money.