A unique part of the MPTT programme is our navigators, who mentor students every step of the way and help ensure they’re ready for work. After a year of working with our trainees, navigator Awhina Kanohi shares her insights and explains more about the role.

Awhina Kanohi is on a mission to help young people build satisfying careers in the trades.

While working for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei she has honed a passion for helping Māori find sustainable work with supportive employers. In her role as an MPTT navigator, she helps link trainees with solid career opportunities in their chosen trade.

“Unfortunately some of our whānau have been collateral damage. They get brought on as casual workers and are not really given opportunities to become a permanent staff member with additional perks. They go into that cycle of casual work, and that’s not a nice environment for anyone – it’s not stable at all.”

That’s why Awhina wants to see more trainees join the MPTT programme, to help them gain a qualification and develop the right skills for work – from communicating with employers to getting their CV in order.

Aiming high

A major goal of MPTT is to nurture more Māori and Pasifika into leadership positions, such as supervisors or business owners.

“It’s about increasing their quality of life, because we know when that happens the whole family is advantaged.”

Awhina sees the navigator role as a link between different groups in the programme – the trainees, polytechnics, employers, and MPTT.

In particular, she’s focused on making changes within training organisations to make it easier for students to later find work.

“If the students aren’t coming out of the programme ready for work, that tells me there’s something wrong internally. So I look at what the existing systems are, and what we might be missing.

Providing support

Navigators also act as mentors, working closely with trainees as they journey towards becoming qualified.

Awhina meets students one-on-one and holds ‘work-ready workshops’ at polytechnics, where she identifies anything that might prevent trainees from gaining employment, and helps them make plans to address these obstacles.

At these workshops, trainees who meet the criteria are given MPTT’s ‘Work Readiness Passport’ – a stamp of approval from the navigator that a trainee not only knows their trade, but also has the personal and worksite skills required to make it on the job.

“I look at their work readiness from the get-go and identify barriers to employment straight away. And then when I talk with them one-on-one, I’ll highlight those things and ask questions like, ‘When were you thinking of getting your drivers licence? Do you have whānau support to help with childcare?’ I get into their world a little bit and identify how I can help.”

She also talks to other people who interact with the trainees throughout the year, such as polytechnic tutors.

“I find out about the trainee’s attitude and their attendance, and get a feel for how motivated they are. I also look at the basics such as whether they have a CV. If they’re not ready, we look at what they need to work on before we get them in front of an employer.”

As well as evaluating students, Awhina considers whether employers will be a good fit for the trainee.

“I look at what support they’re going to offer and what they’re like as an employer. How willing are they to help the student? Will the student just become another cog in the machine?

“For me, it’s a personal responsibility to ensure that who they end up with is an employer that’s going to support them.”

Note: Awhina’s contract as an MPTT Navigator came to an end in June 2016. To find one of our current Navigators, visit http://www.maoripasifikatrades.co.nz/navigators/