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Making The Introductions Happen

It was speed ‘dating’ with a difference in Gisborne District Council chambers yesterday (Thursday) when employers keen for workers had the chance to interview candidates from the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme.

There were more than 120 positions available through the employers who attended the speed interviews. Programme participants, who came from the Whaia Tītīrangi, gardens and cemetery crews, had four-minute interviews with company representatives, coming from horticulture, meat processing and construction industries.

It is the first time this has been done under the Redeployment Programme umbrella and programme manager Glenis Philip-Barbara says it is unlikely to be the last.

“This has been hugely successful,” says Mrs Philip-Barbara. “It is great to be able to connect local businesses needing permanent positions filled and redeployed workers looking for work. Everyone here is so committed to supporting candidates to achieve, it’s great.”

Those sentiments were reiterated by the prospective employers. Meat processing plant Ovation New Zealand was looking to fill 120 seasonal positions. Process support officer Ken Gooding said the speed interviews were a win for all. “It worked really well,” he said. “I met a lot of people and will be following up with many of them.

LeaderBrand was looking to fill around 16 full time positions between the lettuce and broccoli growing and harvesting divisions. Lettuce harvest operations manager Antz Westrupp says it was heartening to see an array of people, including some who would possibly be suitable for supervisor roles. Charlie Allen, broccoli operations manager, says he would be happy to give anyone interested a chance to try the mahi with his teams.

McNatty Construction had recently set up a new branch in Gisborne after years of working in the region. Managing director Dave McNatty saw “definite benefit” in the speed interviews while the company’s compliance and HR manager, Niki Sinden-White felt the candidates had been well prepared.

The speed interview hui was organised by Tūranga Ararau, who created a warm and inviting space for people to gather, invited employers to come along and meet the candidates coming through the programme and expertly facilitated a series of four minute interviews for all candidates with all employers. Employers present had a chance to introduce themselves and ‘sell’ their unique employment opportunity to the crowd before the interviews got underway.

Trish Riki, who oversees the pastoral care support, says plenty of preparation had gone into getting the programme ‘grads’ ready for the day. “We made sure CVs were updated; giving candidates a brief about what to expect and helping build confidence coming into the event,” said Ms Riki. “As this is our first time organising this style of event, we were keen to emphasise timings of the schedule, as there are many logistical factors and variables we need to manage to maintain a professional and smooth event. It is also an exciting opportunity to create excellent connections between employers and candidates.”

She’s confident everyone got plenty out of the day. “It was a positive and productive experience for employers while the candidates gained experience in the interview process – that’s a win-win.”

Ms Riki knows of at least one business that walked away with a new employee after the hui. “Overall it was a successful event with Council, Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package, MSD and Tūranga Ararau working together to make it happen.”

Guest speaker was local businesswoman and mentor Monica Donnelly who gave the programme candidates advice on how best to face challenges head on, and the value of taking action which generally led to opportunities.

The $23.755m Redeployment Programme is in response to the impacts of COVID-19, aiming to provide work and training for up to 200 people. It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council. The bigger goal for those on the programme is to help them find work in the short term, while learning new skills, working toward qualifications, with the opportunity of meaningful, long term employment.

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