Cornel Winiata had been looking for a job for over a year when he went to meet a Workbridge employment consultant.
“I’ve never had an issue with physical work. I’m always thinking about what I can do rather than what I can’t do,” says Cornel. But in interviews, potential employers couldn’t see past the fact that Cornel had a missing forearm.
Donella Earnshaw, a Workbridge employment in Hawke’s Bay, was helping Cornel with his job search when she discovered that Gavin Smales, operations manager at Genera, was looking for staff.
Genera is New Zealand’s largest biosecurity treatment provider. The company likes to explore all possible options to find staff members, and had been using the services of local Workbridge branches to find staff to work at the Northport commercial port near Whangarei, and in its Tauranga operation.
Gavin was looking for staff to fumigate containers at Napier’s port. After Donella arranged an interview for Cornel, Gavin offered him casual work.
“Gavin was really willing to give me a go if I was willing. He asked me at my job interview if I thought I could handle the work with my arm and I said it didn’t worry me,” says Cornel.
You don’t know until you try
While there were some tasks Cornel wouldn’t have been able to do, having his forklift and truck licences turned out to be a major advantage.
“I wasn’t too sure if he was going to work out but you don’t know until you try. It turns out that he has got abilities that no-one else has,” says Gavin.
“Cornel does a lot of driving – we put people where we can use their strengths.”
Cornel relished the opportunity to prove himself, and has now been made a permanent staff member.
Gaining confidence at work
Gavin has recruited eight permanent and casual staff through Workbridge since hiring Cornel.
Billy Bishop, who has Tourette Syndrome, has worked as a general operator for Genera for two years. After years of general labouring, he feels he has found his niche – as well as a peace of mind that makes his Tourette’s more manageable.
“I’d been in situations where I’d never been given a chance because people weren’t open-minded. I was looking for a job for quite a while,” he says.
“I’m 100% happier in this job than I was. I’ve got a cool bunch of workmates and bosses. I’ve been really fortunate and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”
Billy has gained his full driving licence and his truck licence since joining Genera, which has helped to boost his confidence.
Gavin recommends Workbridge to other port businesses looking for good staff. “The staff from Workbridge have done well. They turn up to work and they’re willing to learn and do the job. I’m very happy with them.”