Ag Challenge draws on rural experience for jobseekers

By Iain Hyndman

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Henry Chase directs traffic as mentor of the Ag Challenge JOBS programme.
Henry Chase directs traffic as mentor of the Ag Challenge JOBS programme.

Ag Challenge is harnessing the power of the rural sector to help guide job seekers in town.

Awarded a contract by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to mentor and train Winz clients in the art of joining the workforce, Ag Challenge has looked to its own core values.

The Whanganu-based NZQA-approved private training establishment is known for offering excellent training in agriculture, animal care, building and allied trades.

However, what may not be so well known is that Ag Challenge also provides a job mentoring course for WINZ clients to help get them back in to the work force.

The programme called Job Opportunity Brokering Support (JOBS) runs for 13 weeks and aims to get the client into paid employment and feeling good about themselves during that period.

"Winz clients are referred to Ag Challenge by their case workers and can remain on the Jobseekers benefit while attending," Ag Challenge marketing officer Michelle Colson said.

"Henry Chase runs the course and has been very successful in achieving positive outcomes for the clients and now has a right-hand woman with a wealth of experience.

Sue Jermy will work in the office and act as MSD liaison. She comes from MSD where she has worked for 18 years, so she brings a wealth of experience with her and is a real asset to our organisation.

"Upon referral, the clients are interviewed by Henry to identify their strengths and find out which industry sectors they are interested in.

"During this phase Henry also works out areas that need development and upskilling. This could include completion of drivers licences, developing a professional CV, knowing how to present oneself at interview and any other factors which might be holding the person back in getting work."

And like rural folk are well aware being up early and ready for work every day is the next step for preparation to move forward in to paid employment.

"Henry has many projects on the go that may be onsite at Ag Challenge or out in the field that assist with developing skills like health and safety protocols, working in a team, and the successful completion of a project.

"Often these projects are community oriented in nature and have included building a wheelchair ramp for a local marae, making picnic tables for Hospice, or repairing flood damaged fences. Over the years Henry has developed strong relationships with a large network of prospective employers and there are now many who will give someone a go if Henry recommends them for work.

"Ultimately the client will get a job on their own merits, but Henry and Ag Challenge do as much as they can to help them get there, Ms Colson said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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