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Service centres bring high value jobs and growth

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Kate de Lautour


Kiwibank is establishing a new regional office in Hastings that will employ more than 100 staff and supplement the core banking services provided in the Wellington head office. Recent earthquakes, extreme weather events and the risk of events such as fire or gas leaks prompted a review of where and how Kiwibank provides its core services. The regional office in Hastings is expected to be operational by October with a combination of predominantly job relocations and some new job opportunities for locals.

So, what sort of jobs will regional service centres bring to Hawke’s Bay? What skills do these positions require and what will the new jobs mean for our economy?

Kate de Lautour talked to Grow HR director Murray Cowan, and Hastings District Council economic development manager Steve Breen.



 What sort of skills and attributes do employers require for staff in this type of service centre?


Murray Cowan : Strong customer service orientation, empathy, thrive in team environment, articulate, listening skills, ability to positively influence people, excellent product and brand knowledge, how to deal with challenging people and situations, computer skills, great telephone manner, willingness to improve to become more effective, reliable and dependable, positive and upbeat.



To what extent are these high value jobs?


Murray Cowan: These are high value jobs from a variety of perspectives. At an individual level, they are permanent, reliable jobs offering steady and reliable income; they are in a team environment and the actual environment can be made quite funky and fun, to create a point of difference.


If you are a people-oriented person, you get opportunities to talk to lots of different and interesting people and to help them with whatever their issue may be. 


From an organisation’s perspective, all front line service-delivery roles are critical to the image and brand representation of the business, they assist with customer retention (and sometimes growth) and satisfaction.


From a local economy perspective, the growth in job opportunities in our region, given the higher than national rate of unemployment is great news.  As you know, we have a very low forecast population growth so these jobs will greatly benefit the local economy.   


How have service centres impacted on economies in other parts of NZ?

Steve Breen: In Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North, centres have operated very effectively but some of those regions are now operating at capacity. These regions have shown that once the skills are established in the region, they become very attractive location options for other companies requiring a service centre.

 What difference will these new jobs bring to the Hastings CBD and Hawke’s Bay as a whole?

Steve Breen: What we will see is a new form of employment for the region creating higher value opportunities and a more competitive Hawke’s Bay banking sector. Behind a regional service centre is another whole pyramid of services supporting the operation, which creates further business and job opportunities.

We’re bringing another industry here that isn’t reliant on the weather, or our traditional natural resources, to be successful. It’s also bringing another skillset to the region, including digital literacy and technical knowledge. It’s definitely going to have a positive effect as we see Hawke’s Bay people upskill to fill roles in these sorts of regional centres.

Hastings offers the amenities of a CBD which is attractive to those considering locating here. In turn, the CBD will see the benefits as those new employees use the CBD’s shops and services and the wider region will benefit from the additional wages those jobs provide.