Skip to main content

Making a difference at YDU

For Corporal Harry Averill, being a Youth Development Instructor is about making a positive impact and helping others.

12 October, 2022

The Burnham-based aircraft technician has been with the Air Force since 2014. 

In 2021 he was seeking new challenges and development opportunities, which led him to join the tri-service Youth Development Unit (YDU). 

Together, YDU and Cadet Forces deliver courses to more than 6000 young people every year across their North, Central and South locations. 

Corporal (CPL) Averill says they’re aimed at training, upskilling, and building young people’s leadership abilities. 

“Self-discipline, confidence, cooperation and respect are the values the unit fosters in youth.” 

The work is diverse, and each day brings new experiences and challenges. 

“Taking trainees out into the bush, rafting down rivers, and up on the high ropes, all provide a good sense of adventure. There are plenty of times where it doesn’t feel like work. 

“On the flip side, there are plenty of times with high workload and lots of demands, but this is what allows you to grow. Every course is filled with memorable moments.”

Instructors go through leadership, teaching, mentoring and adventure qualification; skills which CPL Averill says are often hard to gain in some trades. 

“You’re not only rewarded by seeing the growth in the trainees, but also through your own development. 

“You’re able to help inspire, motivate and encourage people to see and chase the opportunities available to them, while working on your own goals at the same time.” 

While some personnel have reservations around temporary postings and whether they’ll impact career progression, CPL Averill says the benefits gained outweigh any delay to promotion. 

“You come away from it with a more wellrounded skill set, a wider perspective and understanding of the NZDF, and a lot of networking under your belt. 

“There’s lots you can then take with you back to units or into your future.” 

Short tours of duty can also give personnel an idea of what it’s like working in YDU. CPL Averill says the best part of the job is the great crew he works with - high achievers in their own fields, from all three services.

“There’s a great amount of job satisfaction seeing the growth in the young people. For some, it can completely change the direction of their life for the better.” – Corporal Harry Averill

“Positive, supportive, enjoyable staff make the atmosphere great, and regular social functions keep the team tight.” 

He believes it’s important that personnel joining YDU have a willingness to grow, show humility, compassion, self-discipline - and, of course, an enjoyment of the outdoors. 

For CPL Averill, it’s a truly rewarding job that sees him learning and making a difference in communities every day.