Work ethic stands out
Five months ago, 22-year-old Vi Ara Taihana was struggling to find work and wasn’t sure what the future held.
He was living by himself in Waharoa, had no high school qualifications and no real work experience.
Today, he has a full-time job with Stanley Construction and is on his way to starting a building apprenticeship.
It all happened on a bit of a whim.
Vi Ara was enrolled in a full-time employment course with the Salvation Army, when Stanley Group manufacturing manager Sean Woods and modular factory manager Gary Jackson came to talk to the students.
The employment course was run in a building across the road from the Stanley modular factory.
‘‘Gary and I went over for what we thought would be a five minute chat but it turned into about 40 minutes,’’ said Mr Woods.
Employment broker Paul Johnstone had asked the pair to speak to the students about what employers are looking for in an interview.
‘‘It’s a really difficult question to answer but we basically told them what we were looking for and what we would expect to see,’’ said Mr Woods.
‘‘On the spot, I told Paul, ‘ choose your best five candidates and I’ll interview them as a dummy, pretending there’s a job at the end’.’’
Mr Johnstone chose five students, one of them Vi Ara, and they set up formal interview times for each.
‘‘Completely off the cuff, I agreed out of those five I would hire one when the time was right for us,’’ said Mr Woods.
Of the five, Vi Ara was the only one who turned up to his interview on time and well presented – two of the things Mr Woods had talked to the students about.
‘‘He made the effort,’’ said Mr Woods.
He didn’t make it easy on Vi Ara - he interviewed him twice and Mr Jackson interviewed him a third time.
‘‘In the end, Gary came into my office, put Vi Ara’s CV on my desk and said, ‘that’s the one I want’.’’
They started Vi Ara out on a two-week trial in the modular factory and a few days after his trial ended, presented him with a contract in front of his entire class at the employment course.
‘‘All we want to do is give the right people the right opportunities – then it’s up to them,’’ said Mr Woods.
‘‘The one thing that always shone out about Vi Ara is you only have to ask him something once.’’
Vi Ara has been working as a casual labourer at the modular factory for the last eight weeks and, all going well, Stanley intend to put him through an apprenticeship.
‘‘It’s a happy place, a good environment . . . hard work though,’’ said Vi Ara.
The chance to become a fully qualified builder is a huge opportunity for him and something that he is ‘‘slowly getting a passion for’’.
‘‘Sometimes when I’m with my family I like to talk about work and that’s about it,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t want to be another big hope and miss the whole subject of getting your dreams achieved.’’
Mr Woods said the other workers ‘‘rave’’ about Vi Ara and if they found more young people like him, they would be happy to hire them. ‘‘He is an absolute diamond. ‘‘ He’s only been with us eight weeks and already he’s proving to be a great team member and an asset to that factory.
‘‘And all I can offer him is a job.’’