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HomeNew ZealandWINZ and Defence Force partner to place job seekers with employers

WINZ and Defence Force partner to place job seekers with employers

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The Defence Force, in collaboration with WINZ, is pairing young job seekers with potential employers in dire need of staff.

As part of the Limited Service Volunteer Programme, groups of young people are fed, housed, and trained, and emerge after six weeks ready to hit the job market.

After a morning running through different work scenarios using a VR headset, the trainees met with potential employers at a careers expo today.

It was a chance for young job seekers to pitch themselves to employers, and for employers to find candidates who were eager and ready for work.

In Wellington, the course pointed many students towards the industry with the most jobs to fill – construction.

Wairarapa Fulton Hogan operations manager Jeremy Harp said they were looking for reliable workers with a great attitude.

“There’s probably between 20 and 30 vacancies within the Wairarapa and Wellington region,” he said.

“We’ve got probably six-to-eight required in the Wairarapa, and up to 30 in Wellington.

“Just the people aren’t there anymore.”

Kuini Nicholls, 18, from Hastings completed the course in August.

Kuini Nicholls, 18, from Hastings completed the course in August.
Photo: RNZ

Scaffolding company Acrow’s operations manager Danny Mcbain said their staffing shortage was getting ridiculous.

They were short about 20 workers in Wellington, and 10 in Palmerston North, and he hoped Tuesday’s meet and greet would provide some good candidates.

“So we’re just looking for young, keen people that want to learn,” he said.

“It doesn’t really require a massive amount of skill, just a commitment to turn up to work and be willing to learn, and we can teach them everything else.”

The Limited Service Volunteer programme – LSV for short – had churned out some good prospects in the past, with both Acrow and Fulton Hogan having taken on graduates before.

Wellington’s LSV specialist Jodie Fono said the course was a game changer for young people lacking direction.

It’s a voluntary six-week training programme for 17- to 24-year olds, with camps at Whenuapai in Auckland, Trentham in Wellington and Burnham in Christchurch.

It’s totally free, run by the Defence Force, the Ministry of Social Development and the police, and funded by Work and Income.

The aim was to help young people into employment or training by teaching them self-discipline, confidence and motivation, she said.

The Limited Service Volunteer programme has churned out some good prospects in the past, with both Acrow and Fulton Hogan having taken on graduates.

The Limited Service Volunteer programme has churned out some good prospects in the past, with both Acrow and Fulton Hogan having taken on graduates.
Photo: RNZ

“They do live on site for the full six weeks,” she said.

“They’re fed, clothed, housed, and provided with a raft of opportunities, not just employment related, but learning pathways for themselves as well, those basic life schools for our young people.”

The course was determined to move with the times, Fono said.

The most recent cohort to be awarded their Site Safe qualification, a requirement to work on a construction site, sat their test through a VR headset.

Tuesday was the first time the Wellington trainees had tried it out, immersed in different jobs such as fruit picking and construction.

“We’re all about growing and changing with the times, and the needs of our young people.”

Getting to a course could be a prohibiting factor in students gaining a qualification, which was where VR could make things more attainable.

“VR is a digital pathway and avenue that a lot of our young people are already using, so why not bring it to them?”

Kuini Nicholls from Hastings is 18, and first saw the programme advertised on Facebook.

She completed four weeks of the August course, which finished prematurely due to Covid-19, and now she’s back to finish it off.

Today, she passed her site-safe certificate via VR – and that wasn’t all she was learning.

“I’m learning how to close my mouth, and learning how to engage with other people… how to keep myself stable, and more self-discipline,” she said.

Another trainee, Daniel Lee, moved from Auckland to Wellington six months ago.

The 21-year-old now had a job in the construction industry, and he said the VR headset was the closest thing he’d seen to the real thing, without leaving the classroom.

A friend recommended the course to help him learn discipline and maturity as he embraced adult life.

“I learned so many things. Before I came here, I never made my bed, never polished shoes before, never ironed my clothes before – I had my mum to do that.

“We’re put in this environment where everyone is doing it together, and doing it as a team is very encouraging, and it really puts some discipline in you.

“You don’t want to be focusing on how to make your bed when you want to go to work, right?”

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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