Hamilton man Nikau Kelly-Goodwin, 23, turned his life around - in part thanks to ATC's TrainMe Training for Work programme.
After spending several years in prison followed by eight months' unemployment, he was keen to make a fresh start.
In April Nikau approached Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) who referred him to the TrainMe Training for Work programme based at Ruakura in Hamilton.
The programme, which runs for up to 13 weeks, helps people find work that matches their interests and skills. The course includes how to write effective cover letters and CVs, interview preparation, goal setting and networking. Students are expected to turn up five days a week for a total of 30 hours, which aims to instil good work habits.
Within 10 days of starting the TrainMe Training for Work programme, thanks in part to the support of his tutors, Nikau secured a job. He's been in employment at BDC Paints, a paint manufacturing and spray painting business in Te Rapa, since the beginning of May.
Nikau credits the TrainMe Training for Work programme for giving him the confidence and skills for getting and keeping a job.
"I liked the course and wish I'd done it earlier," said Nikau. "If you don't know where you are heading and how to get a job, it's definitely worth doing. I've referred a few friends to the programme already."
TrainMe Training for Work course coordinator Carol Lee said the programme was designed to help people build their self-confidence, to identify their skills and strengths and navigate them towards their chosen career.
"Starting work can be really daunting and scary, especially for people who have been unemployed for some time," said Carol.
"With people who have criminal convictions, there can be a stigma around that, and for some of them it feels like they are trying to climb a mountain to get a job. We work on creating a positive environment for them to achieve their goals."
Carol said tutors work closely with students to ensure the transition to work is a smooth one.
"The first few days and weeks is make-or-break for people," said Carol. "We give all the support we can give during this time, as it is important to longevity of employment."
The new job at BDC Paints is going well for Nikau. His boss, Brooke Dunn, said his new worker had a good attitude, worked hard and interacted well with others.
"Every day is a different day," said Nikau. "One day I might be mixing up paints or in the shop selling paint to customers. Other days we travel to do spray painting work, sometimes as far as Auckland and Tauranga. I've done post and rail staining at horse stables, farms and subdivisions. I really enjoy it."
ATC chief executive Chris Hubbard said the TrainMe programme aims to change lives through learning.
"Many of our foundation learners come to us with little hope in their minds of getting far in life, and we love seeing them achieve and get excited about their future," said Chris.
"We work with well over a hundred clients a year, and in the years we have offered the service we have helped the majority of our clients find employment, with around three quarters of those retaining their positions for more than six months."