Settlement Centre Waikato’s diverse offering of business support was outlined at a Chamber of Commerce BA4 event held at the Settlement Centre in February.
Services include interpreting and translating, employment support and English language training.
Centre co-manager Leanne Salisbury highlighted the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust’s interpreting and translation service. Decypher, as it is known, has been operating in Waikato for more than 20 years.
“Today we employ over 160 absolutely amazing casual interpreters who speak over 50 languages, and complete over 750 assignments in and around the Waikato each month,” Salisbury said. “I guess you can say we are a social enterprise, so you can feel good when you engage our services because any surpluses get diverted to other unfunded services of the organisation that support the settlement of migrants and former refugees in our community.
“We are the resource that enables you to employ a former refugee or new migrant who has amazing skills and would be a really hard worker, but you just need to be able to be confident they know your workplace policies and employment conditions.”
She said they interpret for everything from work-safe training sessions to employment dispute meetings.
“We are confidential and impartial. It’s not our job to supply support to either you or your employee, but we can help to provide some understanding about cultural differences.
“Decypher can be that person on the other end of the phone that extends your customer base to those whose first language isn’t English. We work with both booked appointments and can be called on the spot, which is the service we provide to two of New Zealand’s most popular energy retailers.
“Lastly, Decypher can be that link that enables you to conduct business with the rest of the world. You may have seen our current Facebook marketing campaign recently where a client was having problems finalising negotiations with a company in China worth several hundred thousand dollars. In under two hours and for just over $100 the deal was done and as you can imagine we had one very happy customer.”
Migrant Employment Solutions co-ordinator Susan Wright told attendees the service has helped more than 600 clients into successful employment in its 12 years.
“We are contracted by MBIE to provide this service and are proud to say that we consistently exceed our outcomes. This is often due to great employers like yourselves who embrace workplace diversity.”
Wright said Migrant Employment Solutions supports clients until they find meaningful employment. It offers face to face appointments to talk about successful job seeking the Kiwi way, the hidden job market, networking, Kiwi-style CVs and cover letters, and interview practice.
“We also work with recruiters, introducing clients that we know are awesome, and have employers contacting us to ask if we have any suitable clients,” she said. “We also provide post-employment support for the client and employer if required, so if something comes up after the job has started we are more than happy to help. “
She said their clients all live in Hamilton and are eligible to work. To qualify to receive their free service, clients must have New Zealand residency, an open work visa or have studied at Level 7 or above and have a post-study work visa. They must also have little or no New Zealand work experience and have been in the country for less than five years.
“Our clients come from all over the world, Guatemala, to Taiwan, to Poland, to Nigeria, have great qualifications and very often great work experience from their home countries as well as great English.”
They see a wide range of professions including engineers, IT specialists, lab technicians, accountants, logistic and supply chain experts and administrators. “Basically, we don’t know who’s going to walk through the door which makes our job really interesting and we feel very lucky as we get to meet some amazing people.
“Recent outcomes include a civil engineer working for Beca, an IT specialist working for the Lakes DHB, business process analyst with Gallagher and a probation officer with Corrections.”
She said Migrant Employment Solutions also provides cultural awareness and diversity in the workplace workshops.
English Language Partners manager Jo de Lisle spoke about the English for Employees, English Language Groups and English for Businesses programme.
English for Employees is aimed at people in a job who want to improve their English or whose employer thinks they could gain from improved communication skills. The nine-week courses run two times a week and features highly trained teachers in small classes, usually of two to six, she said.
“And it really helps people to integrate into the workplace and to stop that feeling of ‘I can’t manage because my English isn’t good enough’. Actually, it often is good enough and we can bring that out.”
The programme is only for those who have residency or citizenship, and the organisation runs another programme across the region for those who are not resident.
She also spoke about English Language Groups, day or evening practical English conversation classes
“A number of employers have wanted to put their employees into these classes because the cost is low, and because maybe they just wanted a ‘dusting off’ to help the people cope with the demands of their work even better.”
She said English Language Partners also offers private tailor-made provision for businesses with a particular requirement for an employee, such as managing phone conversations or dealing with emails. “As with all our classes, the teaching topics are flexible and in line with workplace demands.”