Big turnout at Fonterra recruitment day

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2013
Fonterra
BEN CURRAN/ Fairfax NZ

INTENSE INTEREST: Many people were attracted to working for Fonterra.

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More than 400 people seeking jobs with Fonterra piled through the doors within two hours of the dairy giant opening a recruitment information day for its new Waitoa processing plant on Saturday.

There was a long queue outside the Waitoa Hall well before Fonterra staff opened the doors for the 10am to 2pm event at the Waikato hamlet, where 90 jobs are on offer at a $100 million long-life export milk plant, under construction and due for completion later this year.

They came from as far away as Whakatane and Tauranga to register their interest but it was not the bleakness of unemployment that drove the big crowd to Waitoa on a wet morning.

Nearly all applicants who spoke to the Waikato Times already had jobs - they would not give their names or be photographed for fear of their bosses' spotting them. Many were in skilled work and said they simply wanted to work for a reputable, stable company with good pay that looked after its staff, or they saw New Zealand's biggest company as a secure place for career advancement.

One Te Aroha woman who would not be identified had just spotted her Waikato company's manager registering his name.

Some, like Tauranga tourist guide Paul Ngarama, had worked at the existing Waitoa dairy campus for 10 years when he was younger. His work guiding cruise ship tourists on marae visits was seasonal and he wanted to return to the dairy industry and the Waikato where his family are based.

A Morrinsville man who is a mechanic and truck driver in Waihi wanted to work closer to home. He said Fonterra offered bright career development opportunities.

Skilled Tauranga couple Tony Davis and Marcia Peebles were happy to relocate to the Waikato if Mr Davis, an electrician, could work for Fonterra, which he saw as a "progressive and smart" company. Ms Peebles is a dental assistant and massage therapist.

By noon 50-seat full buses had made eight trips to the nearby construction site beside Fonterra's existing big Waitoa processing plant to show job seekers where they might work.

The turnout startled new plant manager Donald Lumsden, who said the potential Fonterra would have to choose from was "huge".

He manned a display of the products the plant would make and said he was amazed how many people introduced themselves and asked questions about the product process and the nature of the work.

The intense interest also surprised and daunted job seekers, particularly those without factory experience, who said they were resigned to not getting interviews.

"There's a lot of potential in this room," said one woman who has a job but wanted to work for Fonterra because of its "good reputation".

Several were fearful the processing jobs would be taken by Fonterra workers in other plants who wanted to live in the Waikato or closer to home.

But Mr Lumsden said the "right attitude and reliability" would be important qualities in the selection process and there were too many jobs available to draw down from the existing Fonterra workforce.

"It'll be a blend. Lots of people I've talked to today will be more than capable."

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He said 300 job seekers had registered on Fonterra's website last week before the recruitment day.

Fonterra's recruitment specialists who took applicant details on Saturday will now create a list of prospects for telephone interviews, he said. Those who make it through these will be invited to assessment centres for a second interview in the Waikato at a later date.

Mr Lumsden said jobs for skilled mechanical and plant maintenance would be advertised in the next month.

- Fairfax Media

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