Hundreds at Auckland Airport for 'speed-dating' jobs expo

From Checkpoint, 5:35 pm on 7 November 2019

Hundreds of people descended upon Auckland Airport on Thursday, hoping to snatch a job offer in an en-masse speed dating extravaganza.

Unemployment has jumped up again to 4.2 percent this week, but growth at New Zealand's biggest gateway is touted to provide about 27,000 jobs in the next 30 years.

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said many of those people will be from South Auckland.

"Today's jobs and skills expo is about bringing people all together in one place, and in a speed-dating format almost, trying to bridge that gap in a really fast way and get local people into local jobs," he said.

The expo is also the work of the Ministry of Social Development, which linked up with Auckland Airport's Ara Jobs and Skills Hub.

"Everyone you see here today is here actually on a voluntary basis, they are not obligated to be here," Ministry spokesperson Mark Goldsmith said.

"This is about unlocking hope and opportunity for our community. A lot of people here in South Auckland need to work and they want to work."

There were hundreds of jobs on offer at the expo, from construction to catering, and Mr Littlewood said there were up to 1000 on offer currently in the airport precinct.

Neil Hunt from Ritchies Murphy was spruiking his trade.

"If you're sitting at home doing nothing, this is your opportunity mate.

"Especially the islanders sitting at home doing nothing, I encourage you to get off the coach and come to Murphy's mate."

Danjelle Rossouw said the company was offering 50 hours a fortnight in paid training and it will pay for the driver's licence as well.

"We've got some very excited people saying 'yes I'm going to be a bus driver', so yes, we've got some very keen people so far."

Leonie Parkinson arrived, with her CV in hand, and approached the Air New Zealand desk.

"I'm looking for anything really, customer service, administration, just anything I can get my hands on," she said.

She was retrenched in June and has been looking for work ever since, and is keen to learn some new skills.

"Something that's going to be a bit of a challenge too."

Jennifer Graham was at the Emirates desk and said she wasn't looking for highly-skilled people.

"A good attitude," she said.

"For a lot of our roles, you don't have to have a lot of experience, you just have to be able to be nice to all our customers that are coming through. And work hard, be able to get up early in the morning, because our restaurants open at 4:30."

Mr Littlewood said with so many snapping up jobs, and many on shift work, it was important to be able to get to the airport and home again.

With light rail possibly 10 years away, if at all, Mr Littlewood said he was confident the airport will handle the demand.

"The bus service is there today already and we are doing a lot of work with AT to try and improve that service and put on more buses," he said.

"The 380 bus is a good example that goes through the South Auckland community here.

"But ultimately for public transport to work well it needs to have priority access and priority corridors protected."

The usually pricey SkyBus is offering $5 tickets each way for workers, and Park 'n Ride only charges $3.75 a day for employees.

Auckland Airport said 80 percent of employees who use Park 'n Ride have their parking fully subsidised by their employers - meaning more than half the carparks are actually taken up by workers.

For those who want to drive their cars but aren't licenced yet, there were free drivers lincece applications on offer thanks to MSD and Rule Education Trust.

Robin Staples is the principal of Southern Cross Campus and has done a lot of work to connect students with Ara - Auckland Airport Jobs and Skills Hub.

He said many students weren't too sure what to look for, and the expo approach was a great way to get them connected.

"In my family often we've got connections and we say around the dinner table: 'Look, what are you doing over the summer?' and then use those connections to get some part-time work," he said.

"And for many of our young people, they have huge potential, great connection to culture, and a real asset to any business, so I'm very excited about today."

Many people walked in to the expo a little desperate for work, and some emerged having landed a job.

They are hoping their careers can now take off - turning their mayday into payday.