Student Job Search teaches Māori students how to find jobs

By Marena Mane

Student Job Search chief executive Suzanne Boyd says Māori students need to say that their work is more than a values-based approach, and that it is also about social responsibilities.

“We've worked with the GovTechTalent graduate program, and eliminated cover letters and CVs and actually had video applications, which is fantastic because it has enabled Māori students, to talk about what matters to them.” 

During a global pandemic, the reality of learning and seeking work is extremely difficult.

Student Job Search is owned by 18 student organisations from New Zealand's universities and polytechnics and has been linking students with jobs for over 40 years.

During Covid-19 it has been concentrating on enhancing Māori employment outcomes as lockdowns continue to disrupt the tertiary and work sectors.

Boyd says the biggest problem for students, particularly those living in Auckland during the lockdown, is a lack of jobs.

“We were born out of alleviating student poverty and helping students to stay in study by giving them work while they're studying and we've grown over the years to help graduates get into jobs. So while that has slowed up somewhat, it's more of the casual one-off work that really has hurt students,” she says.

Recognising their skills

Boyd says Student Job Search has worked hard with students to help them understand what employers want, how to build confidence, deal with failures and debunk a few myths.

“Some of the myths are 'I don't have all the skills on the job description or job ad'. We've helped both Māori and Pasifika students understand and recognise some of the skills they have.” 

“They may not realize that being a leader in the community is something that they can take forward into the workplace. So those are the things that we think make a really huge difference to help Māori students overcome the barriers.”

They use resilience and confidence-building seminars on campus, according to Boyd, to assist Māori students to express what they can contribute to their employers and interact with students in a way that they understand.

“That’s really important for us and in fact, we've managed to lift the number of registrations with Māori students by 20% year on year. So we're pretty, pretty thrilled about that.”

Boyd says Māori students bring a fresh viewpoint to the workplace, bringing a modern world into the office, and employers value diversity, inclusiveness, and a workplace that symbolises community.

“Māori students bring their whole selves, their values, their communities into the workplace, and make quite big inroads into helping employers, improve the representation and be better employers for all New Zealanders.”