Stratford's Sam Swinburne, 28, is an example of how the Flexi-wage scheme not only benefits employers but could be the start of a promising career for many young people.



Last year Sam was selected to be one of two ambassadors for a six-month period in a home safety project, driven by Central Taranaki Safe Community Trust (CTSCT) and funded by the Ministry of Social Development, ACC and Stratford District Council. This provided Sam with the perfect opportunity to hone his communication and people skills.



CTSCT chair and Stratford branch manager of McDonald Real Estate, Danny Bates, says it became apparent early on that Sam had a natural ability to make people relaxed and comfortable.



Danny identified in Sam the ideal qualities the real estate industry demands.

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"Sam had the right skills - people skills," says Danny. "He did really well on the home safety project dealing with all sorts of people."



Sam was keen to complete his qualifications and commence his chosen career.



"The real estate industry is changing very quickly and bringing the right people into the industry is tough - first and foremost, they must come with the qualities of integrity and honesty, plus the training commitment is quite significant," says Danny.



At the end of last year Sam was licensed by the Real Estate Agents Authority and now acts as a fully-licensed real estate sales person, apart from having his manager, Danny, overseeing all signing of sell and purchase agreements.



Sam's placement with McDonald Real Estate was supported through a Flexi-wage subsidy under Work and Income's Job Streams programme. Local work broker Rene van de Weert says Sam's placement is great result.



"Sam moved from a community initiative where he enhanced his people skills to this career opportunity which means he did not have to return to a benefit."



Regional commissioner for social development Gloria Campbell agrees.



"Our investments in community projects have a focus on providing employment opportunities for our clients. The Safer Homes project was born out of an earlier initiative around fire alarm installation funded by the Taranaki Electricity Trust with additional support from the New Zealand Fire Service, ACC and Work and Income.



"Jobseekers learn skills and gain experiences on these types of projects that make them more competitive in the labour market. They can also gain greater visibility with prospective employers and that is what has happened in Sam's case. I wish Sam all the very best for a long and successful career."



Danny says Sam's placement is the start of what his company needs to move towards. With an estimated 59 per cent of real estate agents over the age of 50 years, Danny says a succession plan is needed.



"We want to repeat this throughout the company," he says. "Working with Work and Income in this way allows us the flexibility to work out who's right in the industry. The overall investment from a business point of view is huge.



"The Flexi-wage certainly helps and we hope to be in a position to do this again by the end of 2013."



Danny says it is good to hear that Sam has set himself some goals.



"Every January, every agent presents their plans and goals so it's good that Sam is already thinking about what he wants to achieve."



Sam has the last word. "I am aiming to be successful and one of my longer term goals is to have my own freehold property. I want to thank Rene, Danny and everyone involved in the home safety project - it has been great in facilitating how I got here."