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Source: Auckland Council

“I’m so pleased to work for the council. It means I have a good job, and I can be a role model for my kids. They’re really proud of me,” Lorraine Tahitahi, Kia Puāwai programme graduate.

The Kia Puāwai programme brings local people on board to help Auckland Council’s customer services teams – and it’s been a great success.

Last night, the council’s innovative employment partnership was acknowledged at the YWCA Equal Pay Awards with a win in the Community category.

The council’s Chief Executive, Stephen Town, accepted the award on behalf of the council.

“The council is working to improve equity outcomes for all Aucklanders, and the Kia Puāwai programme is an example of the work we do in the area of social responsibility,” says Mr Town.

“It’s wonderful to receive an award for a project that has such positive outcomes for the people involved as well as the council.”

The council was also nominated as a finalist in the Progressive category for a broad range of initiatives that have been introduced across the organisation to address gender pay.

Auckland Council’s Director People and Performance, Patricia Reade, was thrilled that the council was acknowledged for their work in this area.

“It’s a recognition of the work we are doing and our commitment to equality. We are working really hard to create a diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects the community it serves. By using our size and scale we are unlocking opportunities to provide enriched and equal employment opportunities for women.”

A bit more about Kia Puāwai

As part of the council’s commitment to improving employment outcomes for South Auckland, our customer services department started a programme to bring local people who are currently unemployed into its contact centre workforce. The programme is a highly successful partnership between:

  • The council, offering permanent employment opportunities in Manukau;
  • Ministry of Social Development, Manukau office, that helps to identify potential candidates; and
  • The Solomon Group, a local training provider offering a 12-week course in contact centre skills.

The Kia Puāwai programme aims to ensure sustained results and benefits for both the recruits and the council. Successful candidates are offered a job in their local area and the prospect of a genuine career in the council or wider council family. The outcome of an unemployed person gaining a permanent job has a positive ripple effect on their family and community, improving their skills, finances and long-term prospects.

This programme provides a life-changing opportunity for the graduates, a reliable source of motivated staff for the contact centre, and sustainable benefits for the community.

The pilot course had outstanding results, with almost all students completing the full course, and 90 per cent of the graduates gaining permanent employment. Two years on, 60 graduates are now in employment, 53 of them in council jobs. Graduates say that their new jobs have been life-changing, offering a new sense of purpose and pride that they can be good role models for their children.

Amanda Clarke, a Kia Puāwai programme graduate says that her future is much brighter now.

“I’m hoping to become a team leader so I can help everyone else on their journey to make their future as bright as mine,” she says.