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Matt Goddard (left) and Vernon Radovanovich from Union Demolition – just one of the success stories from the Tamaki Jobs and Skills Hub

Tamaki regeneration building homes and careers

The replacement of old run-down state houses in Tamaki, east Auckland, is creating opportunities not just for builders, but also for those who are looking to get a leg-up into a new job after time away from the workforce.

Tamaki Regeneration Company (TRC), which is jointly owned by the NZ government and Auckland Council, is leading a first-of-its-kind urban regeneration programme across the Auckland suburbs of Glen Innes, Panmure and Point England, creating quality, well-planned neighbourhoods with the help of local communities. 

Over the next 10 to 15 years, TRC will replace about 2500 old social houses with approximately 7500 new social, affordable and private-market houses. Part of TRC’s commitment to Tamaki is that residents who wish to stay in the area will have the opportunity to do so, and tenants will be able to remain in the new homes as long as they are eligible for social housing.

As well as providing more housing, TRC is also committed to providing social and economic opportunities for the people of Tamaki and helping to improve their health and wellbeing. 

TRC’s strategy and performance general manager, Shelley Katae, says the redevelopment brings challenges as well as opportunities. “Part of our commitment is to create a lot of jobs in an area of high unemployment, and to help residents find sustainable employment.”

With this aim in mind, the Tamaki Jobs and Skills Hub was opened in Glen Innes in November last year. 

Working in partnership

A partnership between TRC, BCITO, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Tamaki Jobs and Skills Hub works in collaboration with community organisations and employers to support locals into jobs, training and mentoring opportunities. Local beneficiaries, school leavers, solo parents and former prisoners are some of the groups the hub is helping.

“We set up the hub to make sure that Tamaki people benefit from the huge amount of work coming into the area as a result of the regeneration,” Shelley says. “Ultimately, our aim is to help locals get ahead and achieve their employment aspirations.”

Several businesses working in building and construction have hired Tamaki locals through the hub. These include John Fillmore Contracting, Classic Builders, SMP Assets, Union Demolition and Earthco. The hub has also helped local workers into jobs in hospitality, customer service, retail and education.

“Our developers and subcontractors have really got on board with the hub and have shown us that they’re keen to give back to the local community through employment,” Shelley says.

As well as connecting residents with local jobs, the hub offers services for employers. This includes matching suitable candidates who live locally to vacancies, training and upskilling new staff, and supporting them once they’re on the job. 

Success story

Twenty-nine people have found work through the Tamaki Jobs and Skills Hub since it opened late last year and Vernon Radovanovich is one of these people. The Glen Innes resident was relieved to find a full-time job after months of knock-backs from potential employers. 

“I haven’t been for many interviews in my life,” Vernon says. “At the hub, they talked me through the process and asked me about my skills and experience, so that gave me more confidence.”

Vernon quit his previous job in October last year, after falling out with his boss at the aluminium and brass foundry where he had worked for 33 years. Finding other employment proved more difficult than he expected. He was only picking up odd jobs mowing lawns and clearing sections so he was getting behind on his bills.

He eventually went to Work and Income in March to apply for a benefit, but he didn’t end up signing on. A work broker referred him to the Tamaki Jobs and Skills Hub and he was hired the same day by demolition company Union Demolition. Now he spends his days either on the road supplying materials and tools to construction sites or at the demolition yard fixing machinery and welding.

“I’d rather be out working than be on the dole, so I’m happy,” he says. “It was just an eye-opener when I quit my job and couldn’t find another one.” The 56-year-old thinks many employers prefer younger workers. “A lot of people didn’t ring me back and I had a fair idea it was because of my age,” he adds.

But Matt Goddard, his boss at Union Demolition, says Vernon’s age is an advantage. “I think it’s great that he’s a bit older and more mature. He turns up every day and he’s never late. He’s doing really well and it’s good to see his confidence growing each day.” 

Aside from Vernon, Matt has employed two other workers from the hub and has plans to hire more.

Work-readiness programme

The Jobs and Skills Hub builds on the work done by another TRC programme called Tamaki Career Start. The work-readiness and job-matching programme, which began in October 2013, is for young adults aged 16–24 who are living in or connected to Tamaki. Through Tamaki Career Start, more than 230 local young people have been employed and over 40 people have also enrolled in tertiary education.

The programme, which is delivered in partnership with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, helps young people build their confidence and provides career advice. Participants are given tips on CV writing and practical interview skills, work experience and help finding a job.

In November 2016, with building work starting to ramp up around Tamaki, a construction-focused Tamaki Career Start was offered with no age restriction. Fifteen local people took part and also completed a Site Safe Building Construction Passport course for free. Three-quarters of the participants of the construction-focused programme have since found work with companies like Classic Builders, First Call, Bettabuilt, Fletchers, and Griffiths Equipment.

Graduates of Tamaki Career Start also have the opportunity to gain their driver’s licence at no cost. More than 190 driver licences have been issued to participants since the programme began. Having a driver’s licence is important because it often increases a person’s chance of being employed, Shelley says. “A lot of our young people don’t travel much outside of Tamaki. They may have a learner licence, but not their restricted. That’s the kind of barrier to finding a job that we’re trying to offer solutions to.” 

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