Innovative employment activation hub JobLab has helped 17 Northlanders into employment and 70 more are still awaiting outcomes as part of a month-long showcase in the Whangārei Strand Mall.
The showcase, organised by the Ministry of Social Development, Northland Chamber of Commerce, AwhiWorld and Snap Events, was designed to boost employment outcomes by connecting people to businesses and industries, as well as enliven the CBD.
Luke Williams is one of 850 Northlanders who attended JobLab and was eager to find a new role that suited him and his circumstances.
"[I want] something new, just trying to broaden [my] opportunities. Get out there and just try something new."
Williams was intrigued by last week's theme around civil construction and trades where Wilson's Earthmoving had set up a simulator in the middle of Cameron St, letting people virtually dig in the dirt.
Williams enjoyed the simulator so much that he enquired about the course.
He is among approximately 40 people who have signed up with education providers to explore a new career pathway or to develop existing skills.
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Over the past month, Joblab worked with 64 employers and training partners from various industries who provide multiple prospects for Whangārei communities.
Some showcased their industry or business in the JobLab Expo Space, others presented seminars and some interviewed candidates – a total of 125 employment-seekers – for vacancies.
Natasha Witten, general manager for Hubands Energy Whangārei, commended the event for making it easier for businesses who are recruiting. "It was definitely well worth it. They [the JobLab team] did all the hard work for us initially by shortlisting the candidates, and we've got a couple of candidates that we are looking at bringing in for another interview and shortlisting them; they were really great."
Tertiary education provider NorthTec had set up a pop-up store inside the Strand and some of their certified painting and decorating students painted the shop.
Student Zion Sylvester said the opportunity was a great hands-on experience.
"I love being able to get out there and train on the job and work with my hands. Employers are looking for people with practical experience, and so it's great we get that at NorthTec."
Jesse Laurenson, NorthTec enrolment officer, said the pop-up shop at JobLab had been hugely successful. "We've had many enrolments and enquiries about a range of programmes. We've talked to hundreds of people about the different opportunities available at NorthTec, different study paths and career goals. It's awesome to see The Strand feeling more interactive and vibrant because of the initiative of JobLab."
The Ministry of Social Development is now looking at further opportunities to expand the JobLab initiative and taking it around Northland.
"It's been a great success, we've done what we set out to do, and now we will reflect and plan how this might work in other parts of Northland to share the opportunities available for our people," Eru Lyndon, MSD Northland's regional commissioner, said.
"These types of opportunities are important for our whānau, we know the employment opportunities are out there, and JobLab demonstrates that Northlanders are keen to take them up. We are very grateful to our partners at NorthChamber, Snap Events and AwhiWorld for helping us take this from an idea to a tangible event."