Helping out NEET jobseekers - how and why

In the third of RCSA and LinkedIn’s The New Face of Recruitment: Female Leaders Paving the Way series, Bianca Jones, Country Manager at Talent International, talks to LinkedIn's Hannah Kissel and Clara McCarthy about what being a female leader in recruitment means, the importance of cultivating the right company culture and why it’s so important to simply thank your team for their work.

Q. Talent tackles social bias through its charity Talent RISE to provide employment opportunities for young people experiencing barriers to employment. You are recognised as one of the driving forces behind Talent RISE in New Zealand. Can you explain to us what it aims to achieve and why you are so passionate about it?

The Talent RISE program was launched in 2018 in New Zealand and was part of the attraction for me to move over to Talent from my previous role. I’m very passionate about young people, and in particular, those who are NEET - which is people who are ‘not in education, employment or training’. RISE is basically a work readiness program designed to provide a brighter future. We know that employment changes people’s lives. It gives young people purpose, dignity and independence. And we know that a job is not just a job; it’s food, it’s clothing, it’s safe housing, it’s connections, it’s self-worth, friendships, respect and community. Since we launched RISE in NZ, we have placed nearly 30 Rangatahi (Youth) into corporate roles - contact center environments, entry level reception jobs, and some into administration type roles. We have even placed a couple of people into basic, entry level IT roles. The idea of placing them into corporate roles is that generally, we are transitioning them into roles where there is a clear career path for them; an opportunity to learn and grow further.

Q. Do you believe corporates have a responsibility to be more inclusive and give back by creating programs like Talent RISE?

I think corporates are missing out on some amazing talent by excluding those that don’t necessarily fit the mold. The young people we are working with here have some very different, but quite amazing, skill sets which are all transferable into the workforce, these young people bring quite different and fresh perspectives, experience and viewpoints. When you give someone that’s NEET an opportunity, they have determination to succeed and make the most of that opportunity. I really think it is the responsibility of corporates to take the time to consider these young people and look at the benefits that they could potentially bring to their business.

Q. What responsibility would you place on the wider recruitment industry to highlight these transferable skills and people who may have traditionally been more in the shadows and not getting these opportunities?

As recruiters, we have quite unique skill sets. We can help build CVs and help prepare people for interviews – we can empower people. We have a helicopter view of the markets we are working in. We know what opportunities are out there. We know where the gaps in the market are, what types of skill sets are in demand, where there is a shortage and we know where to find opportunities for young people. We have the networks and connections to be able to get out there and have meaningful discussions with employers about how things might work if they were to take on someone like a Talent RISE young person.

Q. What advice would you give to corporates or recruiters that are not hiring these skillsets to tap into that demographic?

We are working with some corporates who have approached us asking to assist them to bring on board some NEET young people. We have facilitated this process by bringing these young people into our work readiness and training programs prior to them starting their new roles. Our programs are designed to help young people build the skills they need to prepare them for what they will encounter in the work environment. It’s really important for organisations to recognise that the young people they take on in this capacity need to have a really strong mentor within the organisation. They really need someone they can bounce things off or go to if they are feeling overwhelmed. As part of Talent RISE, we provide ongoing pastoral care and check in on our young people on a regular basis to make sure everything is okay from a personal and professional perspective. I am lucky to work alongside Jessica Te Moananui who is the Kaiarahi (leader) of Talent RISE. Jess does a phenomenal job facilitating everything RISE related as well as providing that ongoing pastoral support. It’s really important to have a strong wraparound service if you are going to take on a young person who comes from a NEET background. But at the same time, the benefits are enormous and organisations and recruiters who have not recognised this are missing out. Talent RISE is here to help organisations if they are interested in bringing NEET young people into their organisation and benefiting from the diversity in experience and knowledge they bring.

Q. Talent has been internationally recognised as one of the top companies to work for, based on employee engagement. As Country Manager, how do you cultivate your company culture to ensure your New Zealand offices maintain that focus on their staff?

I just look to hire people who are passionate team players. I have hired an amazing bunch of people who have those traits and they are responsible for driving the culture of this place. As a team we do some amazing things together. One example is that we have a tramping club. My team works really hard and occasionally it’s nice for them to get out and about together and engage in a different way. They are a high performing team and work closely together so they are a big part of one another’s lives and its important when you are spending that much time together, that you get along. They know this is a safe space and anything they want to bring to the table is valued. I take time to thank them for everything they do. A lot of people forget to thank their team. It’s not hard to say thank you and it doesn’t take long.

Q. What advice for women in recruitment who want to progress into leadership?

Everyone is different so I consider the advice I give on a case-by-case basis and that means giving advice based on a person’s experience and needs rather than their gender. But there are some common traits I see among successful leaders which include being really consistent in your mood and mannerisms always making sure you bring the right attitude to work. A good leader listens more than they talk because you have to listen to your people and take their opinions and their ideas on board ultimately they are the people that are driving your business. A good leader works really hard to build an amazing culture and will set really clear expectations for their employees in order to maintain that culture. All too often in this industry, I have seen people hire based on the dollars they are bringing in when in actual fact the people you bring into your team should be people who are honest, ethical, hardworking team players, who are always willing to roll their sleeves up and muck in to help out their colleagues. The best leaders will have open and transparent relationships with their people and always encourage them to bring their whole self to work every day so that they feel comfortable to be their authentic self.

Thank you Bianca. Keep posted for our monthly series and if you have someone you think should be profiled, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. To join in the conversation click here.

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