Youth Development

The New Zealand Defence Force is linked with three youth development programmes. Each is funded by the government, but uses the expertise of Defence Force staff to help motivate young New Zealanders to enter the workforce. The New Zealand Cadet Forces is an additional youth leadership programme run in partnership with the community.

The programmes and activities are delivered from Youth Development Units (YDU), one in each of the North and South Islands:

  • YDU North (Auckland region)
  • YDU South (Burnham Military Camp)

In August 2009 the Government announced a range of initiatives aimed at helping young New Zealanders develop skills needed to enter the workforce. Funding was specially provided to the Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Education to purchase youth development activities from the NZDF.

NZDF personnel supervise the youth development activities and are drawn from Reserve and Regular Force personnel as well as members of the Civil Staff. All staff have undergone rigorous screening and completed specialist training to assist in providing this unique and successful initiative.

The Defence Force provides support to three programmes on behalf of the Government:

Youth Development Programmes

Limited Service Volunteer

The Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) course is an intensive 6 week residential course providing life skills to unemployed young people aged between 18-25.

Youth Life Skills (Service Academies) 

Youth Life Skills (YLS) provides support to the 19 Service Academies that are located within high schools through out New Zealand and funded by the Ministry of Education.

Cadet Forces

New Zealand Cadet Forces (external site) is a partnership between NZDF and the community. It is a voluntary, disciplined, uniformed youth leadership training organisation.


This page was last reviewed on 27 June 2016, and is current.