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If you’ve been thinking about a change of career, now is a good time to do it, Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group president Hana Halalele says.

In the wake of Covid-19, there had been an increase in the number of opportunities for professional development, such as free apprenticeships, Mrs Halalele said. That, timed with the freezing works off-season, meant there was an opportunity for people to think about other fields in which they could seek employment, she said.

“It’s a great time to re-evaluate future career aspirations.

businesses to take on apprentices, I think it is something for our local businesses to consider in terms of succession planning, especially with an ageing workforce.”

Mrs Halalele is a leader of Pasifika development agency Tupu Aoteoroa’s Oamaru branch.

Tupu Aotearoa has been offering mentoring and career development for Pasifika people in North Otago since late last year.

The Oamaru group has received additional funding to expand the eligible age range from 15 to 29, to 15 to 59. That had been helpful because a lot of Pasifika people who had young families had compromised career progression for putting food on the table, Mrs Halalele said.

But it was never too late to start learning something new, she said.

“I would like to see Waitaki as having a culture of learning, and having awesome employers who are willing to pass on their time and knowledge.”

For migrants, it could be a matter of getting the New Zealand equivalent of their qualifications, she said.

“We have a lot of Pacific people [who], in the islands, were teachers, police officers or worked in banks.

“They are skilled, but they are not able to take that work here or they don’t actually have a pathway to do it because of a particular visa that they are on, or they have to wait a certain time so they can get their residency.”

While it was necessary to get the New Zealand qualifications, Tupu Aotearoa aimed to break down some of the barriers that made the process difficult, she said.

The Oamaru group could help with things like language barriers, and support around distance learning.

For more information about career opportunities, Tupu Aotearoa and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples are hosting a careers evening at the Brydone Hotel on July 30 from 5.45pm to 7.30pm.

It is not limited to Pasifika people – everyone was welcome, Mrs Halalele said.