A taste of opportunity: Shaping the future of work for school leavers. 

Priority One’s Instep team held its first, Career Advisors Day Out, sixteen Career Advisors and Gateway Coordinators from each of the Western Bay of Plenty secondary schools eagerly set off on our bus to learn and explore. The theme of the day was “Taste of Industry,” it aimed to showcase local food and beverage production companies and the many career pathways available for school leavers within this industry. 

Their first stop was Good Buzz, a company renowned for its organic kombucha. Wendy Gatward, the Quality and Sustainability Leader, warmly greeted the visitors. She spoke passionately about the many pathways available for students at Good Buzz and their inclusive culture. Founded by Alex and Amber in 2014, the couple believed in the gut-healing properties of their humble home brewed kombucha and wanted to bring great gut health to Kiwis. After months of experimentation, they took the leap and started brewing organic kombucha from a small factory in Wainuiomata. 

Good Buzz then grew to a team of ten and recently upgraded into a purpose-built factory and production facility located in Tauriko, Bay of Plenty. Their team continues to grow and brew organic kombucha for cafes, events, supermarkets, gyms, and bars right across Aotearoa.  

As the advisors intently listened, they discovered that Good Buzz was not just about brewing delicious Kombucha; the company is focused on positive change. They source only New Zealand ingredients, promote a circular economy where they can, and make conscious effort to reduce waste. Their commitment to environmental sustainability resonated deeply with the group. They were inspired by the company’s mission to make Tauranga Moana a better place by using organic products and giving back to the community. 

The next stop on their exploration was Bidfood Tauranga, a full-service food wholesaler. Dean Taylor, the General Manager and Dean Dew, Assistant Branch Manager, spoke proudly about the company’s role in supplying fresh, frozen, and ambient food to the hospitality and foodservice operators throughout New Zealand. Bidfood is a significant employer, with over 2,200 staff spread across 17 regional locations. The advisors were captivated by Dean’s infectious passion for food and the company’s commitment to exceptional service. 

As they explored Bidfood’s operations, the advisors realised the vast scope of career opportunities available in the supply chain of food products. The counsellors were excited by this knowledge, now understanding the wider scope and that the journey to a fulfilling career for their students could start right here. 

The final destination, after a relaxing and delicious lunch at The General, was to Pacific Coast Technical Institute (PCTI) where the group was shown a honey extracting facility. Mark Hellyer, the Managing Director, and his team, Junie Rey Bag-ayan, Apiculture and Primary Industry Tutor and Tyler Hamlyn, Tutor and Short Course Coordinator welcomed the advisors. PCTI is a registered and accredited Category 1 NZQA provider, offering industry-relevant training programs. Their focus is centred on developing leadership skills, promoting positive workplace culture, and strengthening core capabilities of students. 

Mark and his team have extensive experience in the tertiary education sector and provide the best training opportunities for young people. PCTI offers a wide variety of programs tailored to the needs of students and local industries. The advisors were impressed by the institute’s flexibility and commitment to ongoing upskilling, ensuring that school leavers were confident and well-informed. 

As the advisors reflected on their eventful day, a few key takeaways emerged. They realised that in this ever-changing job market, attitude and resilience were highly valued by employers. Technical skills could be acquired, but problem-solving ability and adaptability were assets sought after by companies. The importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship also stood out, with businesses like Good Buzz leading the way. 

Furnished with their newfound knowledge and insights, the Career Advisors returned to the bus, eager to pass this information onto their students. They understood the importance of fostering connections within the local business community and keeping up with the shifts. The future of work is evolving, and for local companies being at the forefront of this transformation becomes a strategic priority when growing their teams. Being connected to and collaborating with our local schools opens endless possibilities for the school leavers here in the Western Bay of Plenty.