30 Jun 2020

Website launches in Taranaki for casual work jobseekers

7:31 pm on 30 June 2020

People searching for work in Taranaki have been offered a new platform to help find employment.

About 50 people turned up to the first of three Job Hop seminars held in New Plymouth today.

About 50 people turned up to the first of three Job Hop seminars held in New Plymouth today. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Job Hop is website that connects jobseekers to employers offering casual work - for a flat rate of $25 an hour, paid on the same day.

The latest jobseeker numbers for Taranaki have jumped nearly 25 percent since just before the Covid-19 lockdown to a total of 9682 on 19 June.

Job Hop believes it can help those people into fulltime work.

Co-founder Gordon Heggie - who was busy on the barbecue at today's launch - explained how it works.

"It's a web application. You can jump on there. You can put yourself out there and advertise that you're looking for work.

"And businesses can advertise jobs on there and then through our smart matching service they can actually match with people.

"And they can offer the job to that person or they can put the job in a marketplace and that person could find the job there and put themselves up for it."

Heggie said it was about getting someone through the door... starting with casual work which might lead to something more regular.

Job Hop co-founder Gordon Heggis at today's launch.

Co-founder Gordon Heggie Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"So this could give them an opportunity to get in there for a day, a day's labour, get paid the same day and then maybe if they can prove themselves, maybe they can get back and get another day's work.

"And maybe from there build up a relationship where they may end up getting employed by that business."

Described as "vice president of everything", Katherine Blaney explained where Job Hop clipped the ticket.

"The employers or households pay a flat rate of $25 per hour for each hour of work they want to load as credit on their account then Job Hop takes $3.50 from that as the administration fee.

"A 'Hopper' is paid a gross rate of $21.50 and the first $1.20 of each hour is their fee for advertising on the Job Hop platform."

That leaves Job Hoppers with $20.30 an hour before tax - still better than the minimum wage of $18.90, although short of New Zealand's living wage of $22.10.

Blaney said tax was deducted automatically through the Job Hop system and it could pay out four times a day.

As an expense, the Hopper's $1.20 fee was also tax deductible.

Freight handler Ruben Zinsli was one of those who turned up for the launch.

The 20-year-old had been out of work since the lockdown.

"There were on the verge of having everybody stay and work during it [the lockdown] and I wasn't up for that. I wanted to go home, be safe and stay with my family.

"So, they sort of gave me the option either I could stay or leave so I chose to resign and left, and I've sort of been looking for jobs ever since."

While some people voiced concerns about data security and protection from exploitative employers, Zinsli thought Job Hop could work.

"I think it could be it could be a goer, like, it's easy to just jump on your phone and send someone a message that you might be interested in some of their work.

"Not being tied down I think is the main part. Not having to have a time and a schedule to do the certain things you've got to do is what would attract people."

Hannah Watson of Community Connections - a group which helps people with disabilities find work - also saw potential in the web application.

"It seems like a good little platform to try and get people's foot in the door because there are a lot of barriers to employment for people with disabilities and they are more than willing and more than capable to get into the workforce, but can lack opportunities to do so."

A truck driver also out of work due to Covid-19 could see an upside too.

"I was laid off. They said 'send him home'. I was only a casual, but since then I haven't had anything so this is a good opportunity. I still want to truck drive. I just need to work myself back up that's all ... before my licence expires."

Heggie - who ultimately wanted to rollout Job Hop nationwide - hoped it was just one step on the road to fulltime employment for those who signed up to it.

"We want to see people hop on and hop off. It's our ambition that people will get on our system, get the opportunity, find some work and the business gets a helping hand.

"They employ that person and they can work in the career that they want to work in. So that's basically my long-term ambition. Hop on, hop off."

The Ministry of Social Development has been assisting Job Hop to help make sure its clients meet their obligations to the ministry and IRD, and that the company has systems in place to protect client privacy and data.

Regional Commissioner Gloria Campbell said the website provided useful opportunity for people to build their experience and skill set while adding to their CV.

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