VR forklift lands 37 jobs in Hawke’s Bay
Virtual reality forklift cadetship lands 37 graduates jobs in Hawke’s Bay
A virtual reality forklift training programme in Hawke’s Bay has helped 37 people into long-term employment since it began at the start of the year.
Training provider IMPAC’s Whiti Supply Chain Cadetship teaches forklift operations using VR simulators, and broader life skills training such as goal setting, resilience and confidence.
Programme manager Andrew Stone said everyone is really proud of the course, which has put more than 95 per cent of its unemployed graduates into long-term jobs.
“To have the people actually come through and actually get the jobs, and then get the money coming into their households, it’s just glorious,” he said.
Stone said the nature of the VR training means cadets completing the two weeks can emerge with a similar level of technical competence to somebody who has been driving a forklift for at least a year.
“A common complaint was that we can’t find people that are new entrants to the industry that are competent,” he said.
“People don’t get jobs if they’ve just got the licence, they need experience. But you can’t get experience if you don’t have the job.”
Stone said cadets learn how to drive forklifts between four and 20 times faster than usual using the simulators.
“For this industry it’s a genuine breakthrough, it really is,” he said.
Osheanah Abbott was referred to the cadetship by Work and Income New Zealand.
The mother of four obtained a pack house supervisor’s role with Rockit Apples after completing the course.
“I had no confidence in myself going into the Whiti cadetship,” she said.
“Two days into the job, I was training my team and loving it. The cadetship did that for me.”
Abbott attributes much of her success to the Whiti course facilitators and the cadetship environment’s supportive nature.
“I never thought I would earn above minimum wage, but now I get paid way above that.”
Stone said that giving people vocational skills without upskilling more holistically in areas such as personal finances and communication, does not provide a sustainable solution for job seekers or employers.
“Whiti, which means bridge, was created to help people get better employment, better pay and to persevere to get the most out of the qualifications earned by them,” he said.
“Cadets are able to make better choices because they know where next week’s rent is coming from and that the bills are getting paid.”
Stone said IMPAC ask employers to offer 10-month fixed-term contracts to graduates as a minimum which is a radical step for many of them used to short-term contractual arrangements.
“We are encouraged by the industry support we have received from the likes of Mr Apple, Rockit Global, T&G, Tumu Timbers and Lineage,” he said.
There have been three cadetships run in Hawke’s Bay since January 11, and IMPAC will expand their offering nationwide when more simulators arrive from overseas next month.
Photo / Warren Buckland
Teruhia Sullivan-O’Donnell of Hastings is one of the new cadets on the two-week virtual reality forklift training programme.