Career programme fosters talent, diversity

Issue: Volume 99, Number 5

Posted: 25 March 2020
Reference #: 1HA6rx

A school leaver programme has provided an opportune career path for a group of students from Dilworth School.

Gian and Matthew pictured at Westpac, Britomart, are finding the workplace welcoming, supportive and rewarding.

Gian and Matthew pictured at Westpac, Britomart, are finding the workplace welcoming, supportive and rewarding.

The Westpac School Leavers’ programme aims to attract Year 13 school leavers into banking, as well as attract a diverse range of young people inclusive of gender, culture and education backgrounds.  

Westpac partners with schools such as Dilworth School and offers training and opportunities for career development with a focus on diversity by trying to attract and foster talent and skills which represent a broad demographic footprint, says Clare Montgomerie, Senior Manager Talent Acquisition for Westpac. 

“The purpose of the programme is to educate the student market, position Westpac New Zealand as an employer of choice and attract, hire and retain high calibre talent who are leaving school and don’t want to attend university at this stage, but have the potential and ambition to become great leaders, innovators and contributors,” explains Clare. 

Levelling the playing field 

Most students at Dilworth School don’t have connections like many other young people and Claudine Nathan, Assistant Principal Student Services at the school, says the Westpac programme is a great opportunity for them. 

“The way they pitched it to us is that they would be happy to take on board anyone, so there were no prerequisites, no need to have University Entrance – it was just a level playing field,” she explains. 

Some of Dilworth’s students have been together since Year 5 and Claudine says she appreciates the fact the banking group offers a level of community care and that all of the students were offered opportunities. 

“Many of our boys are leaving a second home as well as school because we are a full boarding school, so it’s quite a big step for them to transition into the ‘real world’. Westpac offered a nurturing environment, which is diverse and multicultural, and the boys were going to have mentors alongside them for a good part of the training – that was attractive. 

“To be able to step into the workforce alongside a friend has been really valuable for our young men. They are comfortable around each other, so that added a layer of security for them. In April there’s a friends and family barbeque that Westpac are hosting – so they are including the boys’ whānau in what’s going on. It’s really important to make that family connection and another key thing for our young men,” she says. 

Connections and opportunities 

Dilworth School accepts students from good families with limited means and a programme like Westpac’s provides openings and connections. 

“It’s particularly important for students from a school like ours. They don’t have the networks some students have access to – certainly not business and commercial connections that many central Auckland school students would have through their parent community,” says Claudine. 

She says it was good to talk to a Westpac employee from a similar background about the opportunities for growth in the company.   

“He was first in the family to get a degree and has worked up through the ranks very successfully. He’s passionate about the programme because of his journey with Westpac – he strongly believes in what the company has done for him personally,” she says.  

Confidence boosted 

After the initial induction, students were able to withdraw at any stage, and two of Claudine’s  students decided to step back and take a university pathway. 

“They had been thinking about university, and I can’t help but wonder if the experience with Westpac gave them the confidence they needed to pursue a university degree. 

“Westpac put no pressure on the boys to be a certain way or fit into a specific profile, so they went there finding their own way without pressure. I think that was really enticing because the boys felt comfortable just being who they are,” she says. 

Nine school leavers from last year’s Year 13 cohort of 69 students are now working at Westpac under the programme, where they will be trained before taking their first live call at the call centre. 


How’s it going? 

A few months into the School Leavers’ programme, two participants tell us how it’s going: 

Gian, 18 

Westpac has been so welcoming in our first month or so working here, and has taught me about managing my money wisely. Many things I have learnt along the way that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have the opportunity to work here. 

Matthew, 18 

So far Westpac for us is going great. The challenges it provides are very rewarding as they give us a lot of learning experience. The work environment is also a place where it makes our experience easier. The support we have received from all staff across the workplace is overwhelming and greatly appreciated. This opportunity is great and if this programme continues, we would recommend it to others who are interested in pursuing a business line of work and for those who want a substitute and/or help for university. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 3:20 pm, 25 March 2020

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