Thursday, August 18, 2022

MPI backs app to train, mentor staff

Rural contractors have been thrown a lifeline to help ease their dire shortage of staff.

RCNZ chief executive Andrew Olsen says supporting rural contractors with mentoring training will help to boost their team’s capability.

Rural contractors have been thrown a lifeline to help ease their dire shortage of staff.

A proposed initiative to help train and mentor workers to the industry has been backed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and now swung into action.

MPI has joined the recruitment drive with $140,000 funding support for the HanzonJobs initiative.

The Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) board has also joined forces with funding to support its beleaguered members, desperately short of staff as the season unfolds.

“Today, two major developments – it’s been launched (last Friday) and MPI has swung in with $140k of support,” RCNZ chief executive Andrew Olsen said.

“There’s a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators in the industry due to covid-19 and HanzonJobs provides a very real solution.”

HanzonJobs has developed an app to train and mentor people working with contractors around the country.

The app provides a web-based platform that will be used by both contractors and trainees.

Training will be provided to rural contractors to help them to mentor their staff.

Support will also be provided for 200 new industry trainees to access the app to record and document their work experience.

Trainees can easily log all the activities they have been involved in during a working day.

Over the course of a season the trainee will build a detailed record of their learning and experience across various jobs involving differing terrain, conditions and machinery types.

“Supporting rural contractors with mentoring training will help to boost their team’s capability,” he said. 

“The app will also enable their staff to keep an accurate record of their work and experience and help to identify any areas of development.”

The HanzonJobs app is designed to increase employee retention by turning otherwise unrecorded on-the-job experience into a detailed, documented and verified record of industry skills.

“This initiative really hits home the power of working together and what’s possible,” he said.

MPI director investment, skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly says the Ministry is proud to be supporting the initiative.

“Providing mentoring for rural contractors will help them to train and retain their staff, while providing access to the HanzonJobs app makes it simpler to recall and present an employee’s experience,” Gillooly said.

He says the initiative fits with the goals of MPI’s Fit for a Better World roadmap of which a key aim is to boost food and fibre sector workforce and jobs.

“It also aligns with our worker attraction campaign Opportunity Grows Here,” he said.

“We’re proud to be supporting this HanzonJobs initiative as it ensures our rural contracting industry has the tools to set their businesses and staff up for success.”

RCNZ board member Daryl Thompson trialled the HanzonJobs app with four trainees last year and says it brings a range of benefits.

“The information captured by the app is critical for developing and monitoring my own workforce,” Thompson said.

“We can demonstrate that as an industry we are supporting training and it can help show areas where we’ll need staff next season.”

Another bonus of the app is that it provides a record of learning, which insurers seek when it comes to machinery damage claims.

“As rural contractors, we have to get right behind this lifeline,” he said.

Following his successful trial Thompson says he will be expanding his number of trainees using the app this season.

While most using the HanzonJobs app last season were under 30, it is open to anyone learning to operate agricultural machinery.

HanzonJobs is owned by former rural contractor and labour recruiter Richard Houston.

He developed the app after covid-19 struck and labour shortages intensified.

“We’re planning to align the records in the app with associated unit standards, to further the ability of the platform to contribute towards qualifications,” Houston said.

A survey from last season shows more than 80% of trainees enjoyed the season and planned to return this season.

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