The Rural Contractors NZ Board has agreed to help fund a HanzonJobs initiative alongside support of $140,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to train and mentor young people working with contractors around the country. It is being launched today. (Friday October 15)

Under the initiative, training will be provided to rural contractors to help them to mentor their staff.  Also, support will be provided for 200 new industry trainees to access an app to record and document their work experience. RCNZ CEO Andrew Olsen says there’s a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators in the industry due to COVID-19, and HanzonJobs provides a very real solution. “Supporting rural contractors with mentoring training will help to boost their and their team’s capability,” he says. “The app will also enable their staff to keep an accurate record of their work and experience and help to identify any areas of development.”

HanzonJobs is owned by former rural contractor and labour recruiter Richard Houston. He developed it after COVID-19 struck and labour shortages intensified. The app provides a web-based platform that allows trainees to easily log all the activities they’ve been involved in during a working day. Over the course of a season, the trainee will build a detailed record of their learning and experience across various jobs involving differing terrain, conditions and machinery types. While most using the HanzonJobs app last season were under 30, it’s open to anyone learning to operate agricultural machinery.

RCNZ Board member Daryl Thompson trialled the HanzonJobs app with four trainees last year and says it brings a range of benefits. “The information captured by the app is critical for developing and monitoring my own workforce.  We can demonstrate that as an industry we are supporting training, and it can help show areas where we’ll need staff next season.”

He says another bonus of the app is that it provides a record of learning which insurers seek when it comes to machinery damage claims. “As rural contractors, we have to get right behind this lifeline,” says Daryl Thompson.

Andrew Olsen says most contractors say the best training is on-the-job and the app is a perfect way to capture this. “The HanzonJobs app is designed to increase employee retention by turning otherwise unrecorded on-the-job experience into a detailed, documented, and verified record of industry skills.”

Richard Houston says rural contractors and their trainees have found the app useful. “Employers can see what a potential recruit has actually learned to do, rather than relying on say-so,” he says. “A survey from last season showed more than 80% of trainees enjoyed the season – and planned to return this season.  The app plays a big part in this satisfaction. We’re planning to align the records in the app with associated unit standards, to further the ability of the platform to contribute towards qualifications.”

Cheyne Gillooly, Director Investment, Skills and Performance at MPI says the Ministry is proud to be supporting this initiative. “Providing mentoring for rural contractors will help them to train and retain their staff, while providing access to the HanzonJobs app makes it simpler to recall and present an employee’s experience.

This initiative fits with the goals of our Fit for a Better World roadmap of which a key aim is to boost food and fibre sector workforce and jobs.  It also aligns with our worker attraction campaign, Opportunity Grows Here. “We’re proud to be supporting this HanzonJobs initiative as it ensures our rural contracting industry has the tools to set their businesses and staff up for success.”

Andrew Olsen says RCNZ is launching the HanzonJobs mentoring programme today. “Our aim is to recruit about 200 trainees and their mentors from Northland to Southland to support the HanzonJobs initiative.This reflects several factors.  For example, our season is well underway, so we can put the mentoring support and access to the app to good use and help us to fill the current shortage of skilled staff. “This initiative really hits home the power of working together and what’s possible.”