As a longstanding employer based in South Auckland, the building company Carters had been frustrated by the lack of job applications residing within the local area. They’re now working with OCA to turn that around.
Peter Wilson, Carters’ National Technical Services Manager, says the organisation needed to fill a range of roles, including in their expanded frame and truss manufacturing plant, as trainee estimators in the national technical team and in-office roles.
Temp staff were being utilised in the factory via a temping agency to fill the void of job applicants.
“This was not ideal and not to mention expensive,” he recalls. “Some temps would spend two weeks being trained, and then decide the work was too hard for them. All we seemed to be doing was training people who didn’t want to work hard!”
The main criteria for factory positions are being drug-free, no criminal record, a driver’s license and a positive attitude.
For trainee estimator positions it’s the same, plus NCEA Maths Level 2 as a minimum. To recruit Carters tried billboard and online employment listings.
The results were disappointing. “None of the online applicants lived locally – in fact, more than half lived outside of Auckland, which made it difficult for them to commute or commit. “None were after a career,” says Peter.
“What they were after was work experience through the initial employment process to achieve better jobs elsewhere.
“We needed to find an alternate source for talent.” Initial contact with OCA came through a presentation to the BCITO Summit by OCA’s John Kotoisuva. John outlined options facing youth in South Auckland, then promoted OCA’s programme which promotes a trade as a first option rather than attending university.
They began working together in October 2016. “OCA interviewed Carters! They established that Carters was an employer that OCA could recommend to the families of their students. We have similar values and cultures to OCA,” says Peter.
OCA put forward several students they believed would ‘fit’ with Carters.
Two initial presentations took place (one for factory and one for office) attracting 16 OCA students. Eight then applied for positions – four in our trainee estimator roles and four in the factory.
Applicants completed drug testing and seven received employment offers subject to checks.
Three more factory staff were subsequently employed and one trainee estimator.
“Every student that applied for a role and passed the drugs test has been offered a position with Carters,” says Peter.
“OCA knows what Carters wants in a student for each position and only puts forward those that they believe will do well in the role.”
He adds that we were delighted that for the first time we had seen females applying for the role which in the factory was a first.
“For Carters, this means the pool of potential employees has doubled. The new Auckland factory has been set up to reduce heavy lifting, so physical strength is no longer a barrier to anyone working there.” Peter admits there are communication challenges, particularly with the younger OCA students.
“How do you communicate with school-leavers? What motivates them? Normally, we would employ people who were over the age of 20 and were more independent,” he says.
“There’s also the transition from being schoolkids to being responsible adults.” The youth needing instant feedback has been another challenge. Carters have found ways to accommodate the change. “We provide constant performance results. The estimating team self-challenge to see who will be top performer and we also have external exams for them to sit,” he says.
“OCA provide the link between the students and us when challenges arise.” OCA also helps Carters to connect with their networks.
“Through OCA I also had the opportunity to meet representatives from local schools, trade ITOs and other employers,” he says.
“This aided the sharing of knowledge – what works and what hasn’t. It also provided some insight into the challenges faced by schools. It was invaluable.”
Thanks to OCA, Peter says Carters no longer needs to advertise positions and have to wade through 100+ generic applications.
He regards OCA as a recruitment agency specialising in youth who want to embark on a trade career.
“Their candidates have little or no work history, so can be easily trained in the Carters way of doing the job. Also, they can usually start immediately – no resignation periods or restraints of trade etc, which can delay starting the role,” he says.
“A strong working relationship has been formed and OCA can now look at another trade path for their students through Carters.”