Head of Corporate Responsibility at Panuku, Miranda James, discusses how Wynyard Quarter’s CBD Skills Hub is helping build a vibrant future for a number of Auckland job seekers.
Since March, the CBD Skills Hub has been operating from a base in Gaunt Street, connecting job seekers with employers in the construction sector.
Set among the bustling construction that typifies the fast-growing Wynyard Quarter, staff at the Hub are ideally placed to build relationships with industry. Work brokers are no more than a few minutes’ walk from every building site and contracting firm, enabling them to stay in close touch with the labour issues affecting the sector and where the most urgent skills gaps are.
The aim of the CBD Skills Hub is to understand the city’s long term capability needs, and help local people into sustainable employment. Right now, most of those skills are needed in the construction sector – but the range of job opportunities will expand to include retail, hospitality and any service that underpins a thriving precinct.
In the short time it’s been operating, around 70 Aucklanders have embarked on a new career pathway thanks to being connected to employers. It’s a win-win, with employers essentially getting a no-cost recruitment service, while Aucklanders gain new skills and a wider range of opportunities.
Job seeking candidates can come from anywhere – many are referred from schools and tertiary providers, from Work and Income’s register, or even through turning up and introducing themselves independently.
There is no age criteria, with candidates ranging from school leavers to people in their 50s wanting or needing a new career and fresh opportunities. Many of those who have found work through the Hub have been job-hunting for some time.
Far from being a short-term gap filler, the focus is firmly on sustained skills growth and employability. The BCITO (the industry training organisation for the building and construction sector) has a permanent presence within the Hub, which has helped foster a number of formal apprenticeships.
Also present at the Hub, are the Skills Organisation (Skills Org), the industry training organisation for multiple trade areas including plumbing, electrical, roofing, and health and safety. They provide a crucial training brokerage function, sourcing and coordinating the delivery of many industry-related courses requested by employers and contractors. Courses are typically delivered from the Hub or close by, making the service a very convenient workforce training option for Wynyard Quarter projects.
Every job-seeker helped gets some kind of long-term plan – whether that means an apprenticeship, literacy and numeracy education, or moving into more focused training to gain supervisor skills. For example, a new Everyday Leaders programme is currently being implemented, aimed specifically at developing future supervisors and managers.
There’s been fantastic support from industry – all major contractors working in the city such as Hawkins Construction and Fletcher Building have used the Hub, and Fletcher Building has recently provided a training site where trainees can learn essential skills – such as working at height – in a safe, monitored environment. The training site is available for all contractors to use.
Panuku Development Auckland sits on the governance group for the CBD Skills Hub alongside partners that include Wynyard Quarter employers, Central Government agencies, Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Skills Org.
Having such a diverse group of stakeholders supporting the CBD Skills Hub and its vision to upskill and employ our people is acknowledgement that a thriving, attractive city is far more than just the built environment. It also embraces the social and economic wellbeing of the people living here.
It’s fantastic to think that in years to come, many Aucklanders could look to Wynyard Quarter not simply as a unique feature of the city, but as the project that launched their career.