Pro Features

Youth connectors paves way to the top for job starter

Topline Contracting managing director Taurus Taurima is leading from the front when it comes to upskilling and inspiring his 26 strong workforce.

Taurus has gone back to school, joining 10 of his team, to do the EIT Hawke’s Bay’s Infrastructure Works course.

“Many of the team don’t have formal qualifications from school or otherwise, so the EIT course was a good opportunity to gain a qualification that’s aligned to the work we do.

“I thought, why not join them? My main focus is to point them in the right direction and to create opportunities for these young men – most of whom are young Māori fathers – to become achievers and good examples for their children.”

The EIT certificate course covers industry specific skills, plant and equipment maintenance and operation, health and safety and first aid. Other workers are doing a similar course in Civil Trades through national industry training organisation (ITO) Connexis.

Taurus says it’s pretty hard to recruit skilled workers in a strong economy and he’s now worked out a plan of having a good mix of skilled and/or experienced staff while giving some young and inexperienced a chance.

One of these is Keil McClutchie, who was offered a labourer’s position as part Topline Contracting managing director Taurus Taurima with Keil McClutchie of the Hastings District Council’s Youth Connector initiative.

Keil had returned from five years working as a scaffolder in Australia but was struggling to find a permanent job.

At the same time Taurus was approached by the council’s Youth Connector team to see if he had any roles available, as he had previously taken on job seekers from Ministry of Social Development.

The timing was perfect. Keil was prepared for the interview by a council’s Youth Connector team member and he duly got the job.

For Taurus, who started out as a labourer himself over 10 years ago, he wanted someone with the right attitude; he would do the rest.

“You know if they’re not right if they’ve taken three days off in three weeks. Keil was really keen both to work and learn from others. I’ve partnered him with a good foreman and Keil’s doing everything right.

“Giving a young person a chance from the Youth Connector programme is worth it. There’s a support network that helps the transition into work.”

Keil is enjoying his new job and learning new skills. He’s recently been working on the enhancement of Flaxmere Park.

“It beats staying at home. I’m learning a trade and there’s a good bunch of guys here to work with. I’m keen to make my way up through the business and I’ve got a good boss who leads from the front.”

Hastings District Council started the Youth Connector programme in 2017. It was given a $1.7 million funding boost from the government in 2018.

Hastings District Council social and youth development manager Dennise Elers says the annual target is to place 80 youth in work. With three months to go, 77 have already been employed, with 28 current job seekers. Council has engaged with 45 businesses and 22 have signed up – the annual target is 30.

“We are really pleased with how the programme is going. We’re very close to achieving all our targets and we are thrilled that 22 local business are supporting it.”

She says there is a strong emphasis on pastoral care, both in preparing youth for employment opportunities as well as follow-ups once they’ve been placed in a job.

“We try to make it as easy as possible for both the worker and the business owner. You do get the good and the bad but we do everything we can to ensure we get the right match,” she says.