School is not for everyone.
That was certainly the case for Kirsty McCabe. The only thing that kept Kirsty there was the chance to complete farming credits.
Kirsty finished up at Waitaki Girls’ High School last year, after completing year 12.
Rather than sitting around at home, the 17-year-old knew what she would rather be doing, and that was farming.
Qualifying under its criteria, Workbridge helped make Kirsty’s dream a reality. The national employment service helped people with disabilities, health conditions, or injuries, find and maintain work.
Most employees just wanted a worker with a positive attitude that would show up to work, Workbridge employee consultant Sandra Familton said.
Part of Ms Familton’s job was breaking down the assumption that those represented under the umbrella term of “disability” could not meet the needs of the employer.
It was also a matter of building up the confidence of prospective employees.
After being referred to Workbridge by Waitaki Girls’ last year, Ms Familton helped prepare Kirsty for the workplace with interview training, CV building, driver’s license preparation, and arranged interviews and placements with farmers.
Kirsty started work at Quambatook dairy farm this year, and loved working with calves and being outside.
“It’s better than school,” she said.
As it turned out, Kirsty also qualified for the job under Quambatook farm co-owner Bridget McNally’s criteria for what made a good employee.
For Mrs McNally, the key was a good attitude and a willingness to get stuck in. Skills were something that could be taught on the job.
“[Kirsty] has not missed a beat,” Mrs McNally said.
“She gives everything a go and asks a lot of questions.”
Not every 17-year-old would get up at 4.30am to work on a farm, Mrs McNally said.
“It’s cool to see someone that age wanting a dairy career.
“She is a determined young woman.”
Mrs McNally especially enjoyed mentoring Kirsty and helping to build up her confidence, and her staff enjoyed imparting their own knowledge too.
She encouraged other farmers to consider employing someone through Workbridge.
As long as there was communication between both parties, and the employees were made aware of any barriers, it could be a great experience, she said.
“It only takes a bit of patience and time.
“I found it a real privilege giving someone their first pay cheque.”
As for Kirsty, she found it a privilege to be given a job by Mrs McNally and her husband James.
Hoping to own a dairy farm of her own one day, Kirsty was thankful for what she had learned from the couple about dairy farming.