Kāinga Ora supports students to be job ready
Students from Porirua’s Bishop Viard College had the unique opportunity for some on-the-job experience in the Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) customer support centre. More than that they also got experience applying for, and being assessed for, a job as well.
Kāinga Ora have attended Youth 2 Work Movement JOBfests in the past and have been delighted with the employees they’ve recruited from there.
Hazel Jones, Customer Support Centre Manager Porirua, says Chelei Kopa was recruited through the first JOBfest.
“She has a great attitude and aptitude and is a real asset to the team, we’re loving having her here. Chelei fronts a lot of our activities and does it with such mana.”
Chelei says she feels extremely privileged to be working for Kāinga Ora.
“The amount of opportunities here are endless and I don’t consider the work I do as just another job, but rather a career as there are plenty of chances to move to different areas within the organisation.
“Things here are forever changing and no two days are ever the same. There is a lot of support provided by the managers and my colleagues.
My favourite part about working for Kāinga Ora is being able to help our customers. It’s always liberating and is like food for the soul. It makes me feel great,” says Chelei.
Hazel looks for ways to extend the organisation’s commitment to youth and to continue to have an impact in the community, regardless of whether there are any vacancies or not.
“Jacqui from the Youth 2 Work team suggested we get involved with a local college and look at what we could provide in terms of work experience.”
Hazel says they had to think creatively about how to make it work. “What we’ve come up with is taking on two students every school holidays for a work shadowing experience where they’re working alongside experienced staff getting a taste for the different roles within the customer support group.
“Students will also get opportunities to visit other parts of the organisation helping them to see where working in customer support can lead to and what the next steps can be.
“We had the willingness, but we needed to work with the Youth 2 Work guys to make it happen, they’ve got the connections and they introduced us to Bishop Viard.”
Part of the learning experience for the students is being treated like prospective employees looking for a job.
Hazel says interested students attended a presentation and were then invited to apply for the work experience positions. Students visited Kāinga Ora to look around and then went through a series of assessments. “We shortlisted eight candidates – two for each school holiday. We then gave feedback individually as well as some collective group feedback.”
Overall Hazel was very impressed by the students.
“I was absolutely wowed – there were some very confident and capable young people. They were engaged, appreciated the opportunity and rose to the challenge. There were several in that group that I would be very keen to look at employing when they’ve finished their studies and are ready to go to work.”
Hazel says the added bonus was the development opportunity this process gave to staff who are interested in being team leaders. They had the opportunity to be involved in the interview and assessment process.