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Couple lending their talents to exploring local potential

IT entrepreneur and business analyst Phil Kupenga is tired of people thinking the only way to build capability in Tairawhiti is to outsource or bring talent into the region.

He believes the potential already exists here, and is adamant this district must invest in its own people.

“The talent is here. This area has produced outstanding people who have done great things here and outside our community.”

Phil returned home to Gisborne after 20 years away, bringing his wife Rachael and their son.

They are spearheading a campaign to help 25 people who have lost their jobs through Covid-19, are new to the benefit, and who want a career change.

Rachael is a former IT recruiter who now works as a career transition consultant.

Together they help people impacted by redundancy who want to change careers.

“We are looking to work with 25 Tairawhiti locals who have lost employment due to Covid-19 or who have solid work experience but just recently became clients of theMinistry of Social Development.”

Through his own career journey Phil has a passion for steering candidates into tech professions, where he has been working for the past 13 years.

Once people have digital or tech literacy, the world is their oyster, he said.

“IT will never stop having opportunities, and advancements. I believe our primary industry workforce is vulnerable to this tech wave that includes robotics and automation. Jobs we are doing now in the region, will not be around in the near future and our people need to be prepared.

“We need to start building our awareness around the new opportunities that will come from technology advancements and increase our tech literacy so as a community we are ready to seize these new opportunities when they arise.

“Our region already understands this. It is recognised in the Tairawhiti Rau Tipu Rau Ora plan that there is a need to build resilience in our workforce.

“Covid showed with forestry stopping that we need different industries to lean on. Building a tech workforce is a great idea.

“People here already have the ability to be successful in the tech sector with their operational experience and understanding of how businesses work, if they know how to work in a team and can talk to people. All they lack is digital literacy understanding how systems work but we can learn this.”

Phil is a co-founder of Orawa, a not-for-profit organisation. It is funding Phil and Rachael in their enterprise to help 25 people whose jobs have been affected by Covid, and/or who are newcomers to the benefit, to change careers post-Covid.

■ Anyone interested in being considered for these career transition services can contact Phil on phil@nextchapter.co.nz or 021 877 827 or www.facebook.com/orawatairawhiti

CAREER CHANGES: Rachael Isaac-Kupenga and her husband Phil Kupenga have made Gisborne their home. For Phil it is a return home after 20 years. The couple want to work with people who have had to go on the benefit after losing their jobs due to Covid-19, and who need help changing careers. Picture supplied