Lisa Webling’s busy working life has included bar managing, veterinary nursing, and running her own flower shop business for over 18 years. Also heavily involved for many years in junior sport as a netball coordinator, she is the holder of a Level 1 community coaching qualification.
However, the current economic times, and the uncertainty of casual work found her seeking something more secure. “It was time for a change. I just wanted something different. Because I’m a little bit older, I had developed a whole lot of life skills. I just decided that I needed to use them.”
Through a case manager at Work & Income, Lisa attended a seminar and met with a team member from Capital Training, discovering opportunities for contact centre roles, with supported learning and training.
The four-week contact centre course delivered by Capital Training at their central Wellington campus is a free course dedicated to Work & Income clients. The learning components include Customer Service, Conflict Management, Health and Safety, Computer Navigation, and other aspects of contact centre work. After interviewing with Capital Training, Lisa started the course the following week.
“I was a little bit apprehensive, I think because I doubted myself, being older. My computer skills weren’t as good as I thought they were - yet, in some ways, they were better than I thought they were. I just doubted myself at that time. I was lacking a bit of self confidence.”
Importantly for Lisa, one of the key aspects of the course is a focus on developing CVs. Lisa reflects that when she left school at the age of 16, it was a time when “it was easier to just head out and get the job doing whatever you wanted to do”. She explains, “In my age bracket, we weren’t brought up with writing CVs like younger people are now. And to me, it was totally foreign.”
But as a mature learner, she was comfortable to ask many questions of the tutor and of the guest speakers that visited the course. “I think when you are older, your perspective is a bit different. You have targeted questions because you know what you want to achieve, and you’ve figured out over the years the quicker way to get there.”
As well, she enjoyed the camaraderie of her course mates and some of them still keep in touch. “The course was fun and we had a lot of laughs. I met some really cool people. We had that ‘buddy’ support, and grew to be quite a close group.”
Following completion of the course, Lisa secured a role as a Customer Service Representative with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) service, Studylink. She says it was beneficial that during the course, two service managers from MSD visited Capital Training to speak with learners about potential employment opportunities. Ultimately those same two representatives conducted Lisa’s job interview. “It helped because I was familiar with them when I interviewed, and they remembered me too.”
Four participants from Lisa’s course are now colleagues at MSD. “Three of us started on the same day. Two of us were in the same training group together even, and the other would join us at times for training. So even once we left Capital Training and started our further training at MSD, we weren’t isolated.”
“We did ten weeks of training where we learned all the different benefits and things. I’ve been ‘out on the floor’ for three months now, and I’m starting to feel the confidence. Nothing phases me now.”
Now, Lisa says she is using her life skills “pretty much every day” when she speaks with clients on the phone in her role with MSD. “At times it can be a little stressful. You can have some calls that are a little bit difficult for whatever reason. Sometimes the person is having a really bad day and you just happen to be the person on the end of the phone. But I don’t take it personally, and I generally have a pretty good rapport with the people that ring in. A lot of them thank me for having empathy with their situations.”
Lisa explains that at MSD, there are also a lot of opportunities for professional development and self-directed learning. She has recently participated in a programme called Life Keepers, a suicide prevention training programme designed especially for those who work in communities or in frontline community roles.
“The contact centre role is not just about getting on the phones. There is so much more to it. And there is a really good support network for us as employees.”
“In the economic climate as it stands now, I’m pleased I’ve got this role. My life is better for having this job. No two days are the same. I like working at MSD. I like my colleagues, and I have a fun team.”
Lisa says that without the course at Capital Training she wouldn’t be where she is now. “It’s a really good atmosphere. There’s no judgement for anybody, and the team at Capital Training are really supportive. The tutor just supported you 100%. Nothing is a problem, and they are open to supporting you, whatever your needs.”
“Sometimes you’ve just got to step out of your comfort zone - be brave and have a go. It’s not always going to feel like the right decision for you at the time, but it could be the right decision for you later on. It may just open some other doors. It gives you a step up.”
“With Capital Training I just got the confidence I guess, to step out of my comfort zone.”