Going for jobs can be daunting for people who have been out of the workforce long term, with women in particular often losing confidence after years at home raising children.
A new programme at EIT is proving successful at overcoming the confidence barrier, with graduates “acing” the interview process.
“The day after I finished I had my first interview and I just smashed it,” said Tauaroha Wikotu. “I got hired on the spot.”
Like others taking the Preparation for Work programme, Tauaroha found her motivation and confidence rising with each session.
Having returned from Australia with her children grown up, she decided to go for qualifications that would help her get a job in the mental health field. She started with the Level 3 Health and Wellbeing programme at EIT, as the first step towards undertaking the Certificate in Mental Health.
Meanwhile the Preparation for Work course helped her secure a position as a healthcare assistant at the hospital.
Her classmate Kate Reedy also found the course a huge confidence booster.
“It encouraged me to go out there and believe I can do anything I put my mind to.”
As a result she is she is following up her health and wellbeing studies with a Bachelor of Nursing programme, starting next year.
After not studying for over 10 years she has found her tutors very helpful, with the preparation for work course removing the final barriers.
Leading the programme is Robyn Barker, who comes from the “university of life”. She says she learned resilience at an early age, having grown up in a family of seven, where both parents worked fulltime.
“Mum was a nurse and certainly gave us skills in being perfectionists, always reminding us we are simply the best and the world is our oyster.”
As a heavy machinery operator her father saw to it that Robyn and her sisters acquired their truck driver licences.
That helped her break into a job in Australia, supervising a facilities department in a mining camp for 10,000 people. She also landed a job driving dump trucks. Her transferable skills before the mines stem from working for Channel 10 Sydney in outside broadcasting, supervising 72 crew, going to outdoor fixtures like live tennis, rugby league and golf.
The career path continued along equally challenging pathways, eventually leading her back home to Gisborne.
“Education is paramount, first steps are the hardest but once achieved it can create opportunities and employment pathways,” she says.
Robyn gained her qualification in Adult Education which gave her first hand appreciation of the importance of transferable skills and education, which she now shares with her students.
She teaches the Employment Preparation programme to a diverse range of students, health and well being, engineering, carpentry, hospitality, tourism, farming and career pathways. The Employment Preparation programme also covers health and safety in the work place and grievance and disputes in employment contracts.
“Everyone has transferable skills they can take from one job to another – they just have to identify them,” she says.
The key ones for nearly all jobs were things such as organisation, communication, time management, resilience and the ability to learn quickly, all skills that most developed during their years as parents.
“Women coming back into the workforce often don’t know they have all these employability skills,” she said.
Once they have identified their core skills, Robyn teaches them how to prepare a CV and covering letter.
When they have done this, she puts them through mock interviews, teaching them how to present themselves with confidence.
“A lot of employers provide on-the-job training so they are looking for core skills,” she says.
Discovering they already have many core skills had empowered many students.
“It’s all about changing the mindset and becoming motivated,” says Robyn.
“Life and careers are like a scaffold that you have to build up to get to the top,” she says.