Raymond Clark’s diverse work experience in primary schools and Corrections’ probation will inform his approach as the new Operations Manager of Workforce Central Dunedin.

Workforce Central, which is funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, is charged with supplying the workforce for the New Dunedin Hospital Build.

It’s not the kind of role Raymond envisioned undertaking when he first trained as a primary school teacher back in South Africa.

“My speciality was children with learning difficulties who had trouble reading and writing,” Raymond says.

“After moving to New Zealand, I did my master’s degree in education psychology through Massey University. Once I finished the qualification I got a job at Corrections and worked in various managerial roles there. I ran a drug treatment unit at Hawke’s Bay prison, and I was the District Manager for the area from Dunedin to Ashburton for 11 years.”

Raymond says many teachers make the move from school yard to prison yard.

“It’s a good transition because you’re still working with people in a helping profession. In teaching you’re always trying new angles to help kids learn – you’re constantly looking for new resources and methodologies to help people. With Corrections, it’s much the same. You’re looking after people who have fallen on hard times – and when you come from a teaching background, you’re hardwired to want to help people and not give up on them.”

Raymond says the prospect of helping people is what drew him to his new role.

“What’s more exciting than to be able to tell someone you can get them into a job and start their career? And to be working on the new hospital is legendary. There are also so many avenues for people – they might start out as a plumber and end up running their own business.”

Raymond and his team will identify people who can be employed by contractors working on the new hospital.

“We’re creating a database of people who want jobs. Once the person is employed by the contractor or subcontractor, we hope there will be ongoing opportunities for them.”

Interested people can register now. 

“We’ll speak with you and find out what your goals and aspirations are, register you in our database, and help navigate your pathway. Whatever you need, we’ll take you to the gate. It could be a free apprenticeship, or free trades training. You can finish your training with money in the bank.”

Raymond says if he had his time again, he’d consider becoming a builder.

“I’m a very good DIYer. I refurbished my house and moved the kitchen from one end to another. I taught myself to put in studs and dwangs, and how to do jibbing and jib stopping. The building inspector passed it all. I find building exciting.”

Raymond’s lived in many parts of the country, but he says Dunedin’s the best-kept secret in New Zealand. The city’s been the perfect place to raise his family. ​​​​​​​

“I’ve been married 35 years and we’ve got two girls. One’s in Melbourne now, and the other one’s studying at university. Maybe I should have told her to go and get a trade!”

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