Training Facilitator Focuses on Future

Whanganui District Employment Training Trust (WDETT) is pleased to announce the appointment of Port Employment Precinct Business Training Facilitator, Kristine Dickson.

WDETT is one of five partner groups steering Te Pūwaha, and is responsible for governing the Port Employment Precinct (PEP) to facilitate training development and job opportunities associated with the port revitalisation project.

The PEP was established when WDETT secured $1.5 million dollars of funding from Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit to contribute to resolving skill and labour gaps in the region. The funding was provided through Te Ara Mahi, a programme that aims to address long-term barriers to employment and provide pathways to education and skills training.

Born and raised in Whanganui, Kristine was educated at Kiwi Street School, Whanganui Intermediate School, and Whanganui Girls College: “I’m a Whanganui girl through and through.”

Kristine comes to the role with a wealth of local and overseas knowledge. She gained a business degree at Massey University and trained to be a primary school teacher before heading overseas.  She worked at BBC London supporting the studio crews with their training and travel needs, followed by six and a half years working in direct marketing for the British Heart Foundation.

A move to Australia and another couple of years in direct marketing fundraising helped her to secure what she describes as one of her “dream jobs” - a Fundraising Coordinator at Taronga Zoo working on the Asian Elephant rain forest.

A further stint in London coincided with the London transport terrorist bombings of July 2005.  Kristine was on the London Underground that day, trying to get to work through the morning rush hour when chaos broke out: “That day was the big scary day, but in the months afterward there were tube lines that weren’t working because they had been blown up, and you’d have to take the bus instead.  When I first went to England, the IRA were active and there would be a lot of bomb threats, but they always gave the tube lines a warning. But after the Islamist terrorist bombings, the rules changed. It was time to come home.”

Returning to New Zealand, she worked with an advertising agency in Wellington before coming home to  Whanganui. She has worked in the city for 13 years in business management and marketing, in the secondary and tertiary education and training fields.

Now, she is tasked with supporting businesses to lift the capability of employees, by connecting local people with jobs created by the port redevelopment project, and facilitating on-the-job or vocational training.

“Te Ara Mahi is a legacy project. In this context, in means that in an ideal world, what we do now will still be having a positive impact in many years to come. The young rangatahi that we train and put into apprenticeships or encourage and support now, will become supervisors and leaders.  So people are continually moving up.”

“It’s about Whanganui but its really about the port, and about the marine precinct. And it’s really about creating highly-skilled roles for Castlecliff residents. It’s about uplifting Castlecliff. If Castlecliff rises, Whanganui rises.”

Kristine is keen to talk to all businesses in Whanganui but particularly those in the Heads Road and Castlecliff area, about their recruitment and training needs, where the skills gaps are, and what succession plans are in place.  

“The more capable people we have, the more opportunities there are for those people to work in Whanganui as a whole.  We’re aiming to become a city populated with highly-skilled people, which makes us more flexible as a city. We want Whanganui people to be a highly trained population. That’s the end game.”

Kristine’s connection to the port means she is personally invested in the project: “My grandfather used to take my brother and I down to the wharf as children. We would fish for herrings. When I was little, I would put the line down through the cracks in the wharf and he would pull it up and do the messy stuff for me. Then when I was older I could put the line over the side. In those days you used to get a big block of Chesdale cheese that was like a pound of butter. We used to cut if off and that would be our bait, and we would eat as much as we would put on the hooks. So the port has got lovely memories for me.”

To learn more about the Port Employment Precinct, visit www.port.org.nz for contact details and further information.

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